View Full Version : Zelenka's orchestration of a Lotti mass

Andrew Hinds
31-05-2009, 10:02 PM
In 1730, Zelenka orchestrated one of Lotti's masses and it is on a Harmonia Mundi CD 05472 77534 2. The Balthasar-Neumann Chorus and instrumentalists under Thomas Hengelbrook provide a marvellous performance and the CD includes Bach's splendid Magnificat BWV 247a. It is new to me but dates from 2003.

The interesting programme notes about the Lotti Mass indicate that Handel had a copy of the mass (music only) and that Bach took a copy of Zelenka's orchestrated version - it is only partly in Bach's hand apparently.

The name Missa Sapientiae was given by Zelenka and not Lotti. Zelenka at different points has added flutes, strengthened string tutti passages with oboes, added a trumpet in one movement and used a group of woodwinds to interplay with the high strings and continuo. The result is the full sound that sometimes one would have preferred in other music by Lotti.

I wonder if there is a case for including this music in the full list of Zelenka's works.

Andrew Hinds

02-06-2009, 12:50 AM
Hi Andrew,

I consider Lotti's Mass to be one of the most beautiful settings of the Mass. And how lucky we are to have Zelenka's version of it. Hengelbrock's great recording is a must for every Zelenka fan. To ask if the Missa Sapientiae should be counted amongst Zelenka's works seems to be a bit bold; by applying his touches Zelenka was simply doing what he did with countless other works, preparing it for performance in the Catholic Church. But he knew how precious the music was. And the Dresden jesuits who savoured Lotti's music would have been in holy ecstacy.

Jan Stockigt suggests the work was aquired by Zelenka ca. 1729, so Bach would have received his copy from Zelenka after that time, possibly post 1733, when Bach seems to have gotten access to items in Zelenka's library. Handel's copy most probably stems from Dresden as well, he used Lotti's work as a bank of ideas, not only the Missa Sapientiae but other ones as well. He borrowed music from Lotti's Vesper settings, some of which are kept in Dresden, for his late oratorios.

I might add that few years ago I had the incredible pleasure to view both Lotti's score in the Castle Library in Prague and Zelenka's copy in Dresden; those were unforgettable moments.


Osbert Parsley
02-06-2009, 04:16 PM
I think there is room for including Zelenka's arrangements of other composers' works in a list of his complete works. Making changes and additions to the orchestration is an important task and can produce works that are very different from the original while remaining recognizably the same work.

I think there is certainly room for listing recordings of such things as the Hengelbrock Lotti Mass where Zelenka has made a real contribution of his own to the work - much like Mozart's arrangements of Handel's Messiah and other works. I was unaware that the Lotti recorded by Hengelbrock was a Zelenka re-orchestrated work. It has been on my wish list for a while and now has moved up a step because of this news!

09-08-2009, 05:46 PM
It may not be the right place to say it, but I would suggest that Zelenka's contribution to the Missa Sapientiae is not that significant.

Lotti's standard instrumentation is for 2 violins, 2 violas, and continuo section. The Gloria also has an oboe occasionally.

Zelenka replaces the oboe with a trumpet, and then creates a woodwind section of 2 oboes to double the violins and a bassoon to double the continuo.
In one movement, a violin solo is replaced by a flute.

Such doubling is pretty common in baroque music, and would have mostly been based on whatever instrumentalists were available. Dresden having lots of good players, some doubling is to be expected. In other mass sections that Lotti wrote with 2 oboe parts, they usually do little more than double the strings. So Lotti himself may have expected it.

Zelenka did champion the work, though, and for that he does deserve full credit.

09-08-2009, 08:32 PM
Hi all,

I hope everyone has by now, added the magnificent Lotti Mass to their collection! I can also recommend other recordings of Lotti Masses, and especially the Dresden Requiem. Then there is also the excellent Lotti Vesper Psalms cd on CPO, these are also recorded from the Dresden manuscripts, some of which show Ristori's fingerprints.

I see Osbert's point on the Messiah, but Mozart's arrangement does include some of his own music and therefore fulfills the musicological criteria so it can be included in his work list. That said, Zelenka made compositional additions to works by other composers, and wrote an aria here and a chorus there. A full and detailed list of these reworkings does not exist but this would add to the current work list. The best overview of Zelenka's work in this field, so far, is found in Wolfgang Horn's Die Dresdner Hofkirchenmusik 1720-45, an invaluable source.

What is badly needed in my opinion, in addition to the above, is a thorough, systematic and complete analysis on the rhetoric language of his music. The closest we get to this is in Susanne Oschmann's book about Zelenka's Oratorios, another important and detailed study.

I would also like to say, that there is definitely a good reason to compile a list of the available recordings of works in Zelenka's library, such as the Lotti Mass. I will start a new thread with this subject soon, listing the releases I have meticulously managed to collect over the years.


Osbert Parsley
23-08-2009, 01:47 AM
Thanks to Benwiggy for his explanation about what Zelenka added to the music of Lotti in the Missa Sapientiae. Not having heard or seen a score for the Lotti original, I was not aware of how small Zelenka's additions were.

Johannes's idea of adding to the current work list items that are original compositional additions by Zelenka to other composers' music is interesting.