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l'infastidito
13-04-2014, 08:22 PM
ZWV 12 PERFORMED BY COLLEGIUM 1704!
Great news about another Zelenka premiere! Just after Ensemble Antiphona's world premiere of "Missa Sancti Spiritu" (Zwv 4) in France, Collegium 1704 announced a new milestone in the ongoing Zelenka rediscovery adventure: Luks & co. are going to perform the "Missa Divi Xaverii" (Zwv 12) for the first time in Europe in Prague's Rudolfinum Concert Hall, both on 15 and 16 December 2014: http://www.collegium1704.com/en/collegium-1704-in-rudolfinum.html . Thank you, Collegium 1704! I wonder if the double booking for this concert program could reflect the rapidly growing interest in "new" Zelenka compositions...

Zelenka's Mass dedicated to S. Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies, is exceptional for several reasons, both musically and context-wise, and aria-wise it is probably the most accomplished of ALL his masses:
FIRSTLY, the veneration of this Jesuit saint was exceptionally strong in the Dresden Court, and apparently for Zelenka himself.
SEONDLY, Zwv 12 was the first Mass Zelenka composed after Heinichen's death in July 1729. He must have been quite optimistic regarding his chances to become the next Kapellmeister at this point.
THIRDLY, unlike common procedure in the 1720s, JDZ did NOT have to compose this work "in great haste". The kyrie is dated 3 September 1729 and the final Agnus Dei 26 November 1729.
FOURTHY, whether this can be seen in connection with the 3 points above or not, Zwv 12 is a work of abundance, confidence and joy from a musical point of view:The innovative choral writings show few signs of reworkings according to J. Stockigt, despite their complexity on many levels. It also seems to be the only occasion in which JDZ took time to add separate autograph parts for the trumphets.
FIFTLY, "Missa Divi Xaverii" is Zelenka's aria Mass par excellance, not only because he found space for six arias (4 solos & 2 duets) in c. 40 minutes total, but even more so because of the great care and variation shown in the combination of the voice(s) with the accompanying obbligato instruments (oboes, flutes, violins, viola and/or violoncello, + b.c.). Actually, if we consider the attention given by Zelenka to the relationship between voice and obbligato instruments in the arias/ duets here, it seems that Zwv 12 has NO equal among his other c. 20 masses, including the missa ultimae.
Particularly touching and even a bit strange is the "benedictus". Given that the well-known, popular visual and verbal imagery of S. Frans Xavier back then represented the saint, the apostle of the Indies, in the act of baptising exotic looking Indian "savages", isn't it tempting to interprete the aria's exotic sound as a musical variant of this mentality, i.e. as musical orientalism?


Last, but not least, we must REALLY hope Collegium 1704 has planned to immortalize their performance achievements in a lasting CD recording with the ensemble's usually high artistic standard. It would be very sad if not, but fortunately Collegium 1704 & Luks seem to be aware of the importance, and the situation. A double concert at the Rudolfinum...
SVF

Xanaseb
14-04-2014, 04:13 PM
\o/ WOW \o/ This is fantastic news! Missa Divi Xaverii has been crying out to be performed and recorded (and indeed, let us *really* hope that Colegium 1704 will do that!) for a long time!
Interesting idea regarding the Benedictus; maybe!. After listening many times to the mp3 files of ZWV12 on jdzelenka.net (which I recommend to anyone wanting to taste the flavour of this wondrous Missa!), the Benedictus is possibly my favourite part. The overall style of it reminds a bit of the Kyrie from the Litaniae Xaverianae ZWV155, composed 2 years earlier than the mass; the undulating melodic patterns especially.
Thanks for the info, SVF. Can't wait for December! :cool:

djdresden
16-04-2014, 02:04 AM
This is indeed great news. Here we have another of Zelenka's major works being performed by one of the best orchestras in Europe. Slowly but surely we are getting to the point where all the masses have been performed, and hopefully recorded. As for this mass, it's so important because of the musical changes that were about to take place in Dresden, changes where Zelenka as acting Kapellmeister had a major and decisive role to play, as I demonstrate in my recent article for Studi vivaldiani.

It should be remembered though, that the Mass has been performed at least two times before, in Australia in 2009 and 2010, and I seem to recall an earlier performance somewhere in Europe. In Melbourne, Zelenka enthusiast Gary Ekkel directed the Newman Baroque Orchestra, the Choir of Newman College and soloists, in an edition prepared by Richard Divall and musicologically consulted by Jan Stockigt. A live recording that was made on this occasion confirms what Gary and Jan wrote in the program notes for this concert:

Zelenka – Missa Divi Xaverii

"Through a report in the annual letter of 1729, the context of the original performance of Zelenka’s Missa Divi Xaverii is available:

"The Holy Apostle to the Indies had an entire octave . . . during which not only did the King’s music resound in the litanies, which are usually sung at four o’clock in the afternoon, but the high altar shone with numerous rows of candles. Our Most Serene Princess, who has a strong devotion to Xavier, loaned relics of the saint from her collection and offered them to the pious kiss of the faithful."

Composed at a time when Zelenka must have been confident that an important post was about to become his, this is among Zelenka’s most brilliant and joyful Mass settings. The music – for the Baroque era – is set on a grand scale, befitting the importance of the saint at the Electoral court.

The orchestra is one of the largest that Zelenka employs: Missa Divi Xaverii is scored for SATB soloists and chorus, four trumpets, timpani, two flutes, two oboes, bassoon, two violins, alto and tenor violas and basso continuo (played on viola da gamba, contrabass and organ in today’s performance). Despite having no Credo, the Missa Divi Xaverii is as long as, if not longer than, companion works which do include the Credo, giving the Mass a status appropriate to the patron of Maria Josepha and the Viennese court. Several of the movements include expansive orchestral introductions: the opening Kyrie opens with a twenty-bar orchestral passage – one quarter of the entire movement – introducing all the main themes of the movement. The ‘Quoniam’ setting of Missa Divi Xaverii begins with a brilliant ritornello in which trios of two flutes and violas, two oboes and bassoon, and two-part violins with continuo echo each other throughout the orchestra, before breaking into one of Zelenka’s most exciting choruses.

Given the scale of the work, thematic links are important in providing a sense of structure. The effusive opening theme of Kyrie I, for example, returns as the counter-subject of Kyrie II and then recapitulates for the culmination of the mass in Agnus Dei II; the short sharp fugal exposition of the Qui tollis I reappears two movements later in the Qui sedes, transposed from minor to major, framing the bass-tenor duet (Qui tollis II); and a little motif at the ‘Osanna’ at the end of the Sanctus movement becomes the fugal subject of an extended ‘Osanna’ movement, culminating in a Handelian choral sequence of twenty-five bars in which the sopranos rise from d' to a'', supported in the bass with the figure moving through the keys of G–A–B minor–C–D.

Between the pillars of the lavishly scored tuttis, Zelenka creates contrast with declamatory sections and carefully crafted arias. The declamatory sections are four-to-six bar ‘moments’ of emotional concentration where the inexorable rhythms of the tutti sections make way for slow, intense sections built on dissonant chords and suspensions. The arias reveal Zelenka’s skill at writing delicate solos accompanied by obbligato instruments. For example, an aria to the text ‘Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris’ is composed as a galant Italian pastorella, featuring two rapidly articulated flute parts (Zelenka may have had the court flautists, Buffardin and Quantz, in mind.) Similarly, the ‘Benedictus’ – one of two beautiful arias to occur in the concluding parts of Missa Divi Xaverii – matches the solo soprano with an exquisite coupling of solo oboe and violin."

The program included:

1. Entrance movements
a. Fanfare
b. Organ intonazione
c. Movement 1 (‘Kyrie’) from the Litaniae Xaverianae ZWV 155 (1727) by Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)
d. Introit Loquebar de testimoniis tuis – Gregorian chant

2. ‘Kyrie Eleison’ from Missa divi Xaverii ZWV 12 (1729) by Jan Dismas Zelenka

3. ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ from Missa divi Xaverii

4. Gradual Justus et palma – Gregorian chant

5. Offertory Veritas mea – Gregorian chant

6. ‘Sanctus’ from Missa divi Xaverii

7. Elevation motet – O salutaris hostia by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-94)

8. ‘Agnus Dei’ from Missa divi Xaverii

9. Communion Beatus servus – Gregorian chant

10. Doxology
a. Ite missa est – Gregorian chant
b. ‘Gloria patri’ from the Magnificat ZWV 108 (1725)
c. ‘Amen’ from the Magnificat ZWV 108 (1725)

Xanaseb
22-04-2014, 06:16 PM
I wish I could hear that Melbourne performance! It looks magnificent.
Was the lay out selected here by Ekkel and Stockigt authentic to how masses would have been performed at Dresden royal chapel? ie. interspersed with chants and motets?