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Thread: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

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    Default Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    Collegium 1704 will be performing the Missa Omnium Sanctorum ZWV 21 on 25 August 2012 at this year's Utrecht Early Music Festival.

    http://oudemuziek.bo9.nl/en/concertcalendar/brochure/

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    Collegium 1704 put on a splendid performance of Missa Omnium Sanctorum in Utrecht on 25 August. It was rapturously received by the audience.

    Perhaps the only disappontment was that Hana Blažíková didn't sing with them. The other soloists sang well, particularly Tomas Kral. Another disappointment was Luks' choice of the solo soprano who didn't quite have an historically informed style. Luks could have easily picked Barbora Sojkova who was singing in the choir.

    It wasn't surprising Blažíková didn't sing with them as she sang in another concert with L'Armonia Sonora and Concerto Palatino just over an hour later, performing an all-Rosenmuller programme. Blažíková sang with Robin Blaze and Peter Kooij, and sang a wonderful solo Confitebor Tibi. This was arguably the highlight of the Utrecht Festival. Even Luks and other members of Collegium 1704 were in the audience.
    Last edited by Honey B; 30-08-2012 at 01:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    The soprano solo (Alena Hellerová) was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC - AMAZING. With great clarity and profound expression - exactly what Zelenka´s music needs! Beautiful voice!
    The performance can be seen here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZNYtML_Zrg

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    Having watched the Youtube clip, I have to agree with Honey B. The soprano is not fantastic. Far from it. In fact, she is a rather ordinary modern opera singer (heavy vocal technique and rather persistent vibrato as a fundamental element of her voice) of no great artistic insight. Similarly with Luks' alto, who is much worse. By comparison with Ensemble Inegal's recording, Luks' choice of soprano and alto is an evident flaw in the performance. The soprano to some extent and the alto to a great extent are just rather vocally inappropriate and far less expressive than more stylistically attuned singers usually are in this repertoire. The choice of inappropriate sopranos and female altos has been a growing problem with Luks' otherwise exemplary performances over recent years. It is an increasing problem too, if one considers his 2012/2013 programme.
    Osbert

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    I was delighted to watch the dedication and joy of the performers who clearly love their Zelenka. Is this not enough!? I think that it is wonderful to have such an opportunity on Youtube and hope that those who have criticised the female soloists will take a broader view. I understand what they are saying but there is a broader picture and the overall effect for me of the concert is to be thankful that I can hear greatness six times (to date) and lots more over the next week or two.
    I won't say "Shame on you"!
    Andrew Hinds

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    I must say I staunchly disagree with Osbert. We all know that a vocal performance is not good only because of the "mechanics" or technique of the singing, otherwise even the Zelenka midi files on this site might suffice . What matters most, to an especial degree in Baroque music, is what the soloist imparts in that singing, the feeling, the expression. Technique counts, of course, and if, say, vibrato is being used excessively *and* artificially it really can ruin things, sure. Take for example the recent recording of Zelenka's I Penitenti al Sepolchro ZWV 63 on ZigZag (Vaclav Luks conducting also), where the talented tenor (Stoklossa) sings in the style of an Italian opera hero, and it doesn't really work. But, this is not the case here.

    I have watched the youtube video of Luks performing Zelenka's ZWV 21 mass, and the soprano (Alena Hellerova) really *is* AMAZING (to quote SineNomine from September/1st). She sings with devotion, clarity, sensitivity and a lot of feeling, which more than makes up for the greater use of vibrato. The alto (Kamila Mazalova) has a unique, subdued voice, that makes a very interesting rendering of her aria. Everyone -- soloists and choir -- sings with immense dedication; the tempos are just right (unlike Adam Viktora's galloping speed); and overall the performance is not only the best I have ever heard of this mass (with all due respect to previous interpretations, including the one by Frieder Bernius), but also revelatory: until now, for me this mass was "OK, not bad", but not great. After having heard this performance, I can say it's a magnificent masterpiece. Where other performances paint a vague sketch of the Himalayas on paper, or a colourful picture, this performance takes you there.

    Every major Baroque ensemble can perform with decent (period) technique, skill and precision. Above this, the way I see it, what Zelenka's music needs is not ice-cold perfection at quick speed, or a large choir with big-name soloists; it needs love and devotion. If one doesn't hear this, then that performance is empty, no matter how perfect otherwise.

    Therefore, I would say: Bravo to Vaclav Luks, ensemble 1704 and all the soloists involved for such an incredible performance that has love and devotion and that recreates the music of Zelenka as he envisioned it! I encourage whoever has any connections to the ensemble and conductor to make a plea for them to record this last, ultimate mass by Zelenka, in their own, "ultimate", performance (with the same soloists, please)!

    Yours
    -- King Max

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    Zelenka never used countertenor (nor Handel or all Italien composers). Of course he commonly used castrato-singers, but the voice of the castrato is totally different from the voice of countertenor - very, very far from the often thin and dietary voices of contemporary countertenors. It´s trendy today to use countertenors but it has nothing to do with style and historical reality. Mature female voice is much closer to the expression of castrato. You are badly informed, Osbert.
    Jan
    Last edited by SineNomine; 23-09-2012 at 11:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    [QUOTE=SineNomine;1258]Zelenka never used countertenor (nor Handel or all Italien composers). Of course he commonly used castrato-singers ...

    Jan, I think you misunderstood what I was saying about female altos in my post. Perhaps my syntax was not wholly clear. By saying "inappropriate female altos", I was not saying that it is inappropriate to use a female alto, but was saying that Luks' choice of female alto voices in recent years has veered towards alto singers of an inappropriate style.

    As for that style, it is surely misconceived to refer to singers of the style of Blazikova as having "thin and dietary voices" (I know you were referring to the usual sound of modern countertenors, but Honey B's original lament was that Blazikova was replaced by the far inferior Hellerova). If the period instrument orchestra is playing with particular historically informed phrasing, dynamics, articulation and reduced vibrato (as Collegium 1704 was doing), we should expect the singers to match that style with their voices, rather than simply paying lip service to reducing vibrato a tiny bit and otherwise sound wholly "modern opera house". It is rather tedious that whenever this issue is raised, the straw man of interpretative poverty is the only answer. Pure and yet colourfully shaded (not thin and dietary) voices singing with precision such as Blazikova's does not mean ice-cold singing with a lack of love and devotion in expression as King Max suggests.
    Last edited by Osbert Parsley; 25-09-2012 at 07:29 AM.
    Osbert

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    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    Osbert has hit the nail on the head. At Utrecht recently, I had the chance to be in several separate conversations with a leading early music tenor and a very knowledgeable early music devotee/reviewer, and exactly this point came out: good early music singers intelligently match their singing with the playing style of the instrumentalists.

    It was a privilege to hear Blažíková live at Utrecht. She was everything as good as her recordings and much more.

    An interesting point that SineNomine raised: “.... the voice of the castrato is totally different from the voice of (a) countertenor.” Unless SineNomine has actually heard the singing of what would today amount to child abuse, isn’t this mere speculation? Even the great Gustav Leonhardt acknowledged that “....in truth most of our playing is based on hypothesis” when he was discussing how the composers heard their music at the time.

    While Honey B has inadvertently stirred a hornets’ nest, does anyone think that Markéta Cukrová was AMAZING in Luks’ 2010 recording of Officium defunctorum ZWV 47 and Requiem in D ZWV 46 (Accent ACC 24244)?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Collegium 1704 to perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum at Utrecht Early Music Festival

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey B View Post
    Osbert has hit the nail on the head. At Utrecht recently, I had the chance to be in several separate conversations with a leading early music tenor and a very knowledgeable early music devotee/reviewer, and exactly this point came out: good early music singers intelligently match their singing with the playing style of the instrumentalists.

    It was a privilege to hear Blažíková live at Utrecht. She was everything as good as her recordings and much more.

    An interesting point that SineNomine raised: “.... the voice of the castrato is totally different from the voice of (a) countertenor.” Unless SineNomine has actually heard the singing of what would today amount to child abuse, isn’t this mere speculation? Even the great Gustav Leonhardt acknowledged that “....in truth most of our playing is based on hypothesis” when he was discussing how the composers heard their music at the time.

    While Honey B has inadvertently stirred a hornets’ nest, does anyone think that Markéta Cukrová was AMAZING in Luks’ 2010 recording of Officium defunctorum ZWV 47 and Requiem in D ZWV 46 (Accent ACC 24244)?
    To Honey: B

    To Honey: But that is the question...what is "good early music singer". Someon likes Blazikova, someon Hellerova...that´s ok. None of the Baroque theorists do not speak about "instrumental style of singing" - alwys about vocal style of playing the instrument.

    And to the difference between countertenor and castrato...it is not a hypothesis. Castrato sang full voice without transitions between registers and countertenor (falsetist) uses only one register - head voice (falsetto). The difference is clear. This is simply biology! Can you imagine the voice of Andreas Scholl or Blazikova in performance of Fux Costanza e Fortezza 1723? (open air ampheatre for 5000 people, 200 musicians in orchestra) or in Teatro San Carlo in Naples (2000 people, 80 musicians in orchestra) - just ridiculous pantomime
    Bach aesthetics is simply not applicable always and everywhere - if we say Scholl is perfect for Bach, it does not mean that he is perfect for baroque in general.
    Jan

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