Magazine article Czech Music

Jan Dismas Zelenka Sonatas ZWV 181

Magazine article Czech Music

Jan Dismas Zelenka Sonatas ZWV 181

Article excerpt

Jan Dismas Zelenka Sonatas ZWV 181

Xenia Liiffier, Michael Bosch--oboe, Jane Gower--bassoon, Helena Zemanova--violin, Ludek Brany--double-bass, Shizuko Noiri--lu te, Vaclav Luks--harpsichord.

Text: English, French, German, Czech. Recorded: Mar., Jul. 2016, Church of Saints Simon and jude, Prague. Released: 20 17. TT: 107'21. DOD. 2 CDs, Accent ACC 24319.

t,e title featuring J. D. Zelenka's instrumental works, recorded under the heading of Collegium 1 704 (even though its main protagonists are not permanent members of the ensemble), is a masterful accomplishment on the part of Vaclav Luks, who besides preparing the music also played the harpsichord. And of no lesser quality is the truly exemplary accompanying text, written by Vaclav Kapsa. Moreover, I also feel obliged to highlight the high technical standards of the recording, owing to the recording director, Jiri Gemrot, and the sound engineer, Ales Dvorak. The trio sonatas are among the most engrossing Zelenka opuses to have survived. Listening to them is just as delicious as the pomegranate on the album's cover, yet for many a musician they are just too challenging to play. When, however, instrumentalists as superb as those Vaclav Luks had chosen to work with get together, the performance may well be compared to savouring the most flavoursome of fruits. At this juncture, I feel it appropriate to refer to the sleeve notes, in which Vaclav Kapsa writes that "the sonatas rank among the most remarkable chamber pieces of their time, the most demanding items of the Baroque oboe and bassoon repertoire, and the key works of Zelenka's creative legacy." I would like to add that to my ears they sound just as good as Johann Sebastian Bach's music. Meeting the sonatas' technical requirements is a truly gigantic task, yet it is indeed feasible. Although the wind parts are virtuoso, Zelenka wrote them bearing in mind the qualities of both the instruments and the performers. Here is yet another quote from Vaclav Kapsa's text: "The very long chains of virtuoso passages are not meant for the players' ostentatiously showing off, they serve to thoughtfully accumulate the tension, which results in the desired expressive effect at the moment when all the conceivable expectations on the part of the listener are fully satisfied and the end is still far from being near." There is no need to further highlight Zelenka's compositional mastery. …

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