View Full Version : 30 years with Zelenka

Andrew Hinds
05-12-2006, 07:33 PM
It has been a wonderful 30 years for me! I had not expected to find another composer who approached in quality the music of that composer above all, J S Bach, and then in about 1975 when listening to BBC Radio 3, I first heard the DG Archiv recordings of the Trio Sonatas with Heinz Holliger and other fine soloists. There followed the Orchestral Works and, fairly early on, a Panton record that provided an overview and some singing too.
I discovered from my 1910 "Maitland" Grove that there were 20 Masses and I was immediately on the trail. I obtained a photocopy of the only Mass held by the British Museum and set about trying to produce a piano reduction of the score. Before I had got very far, out came the first LP of a Mass. It was Missa Circumcisionis (ZWV 11). I was delighted to hear the music but very disappointed to find that, instead of being something new, it was a version of my "British Museum" music. Out of a possible twenty Masses, it did seem like bad luck!
Now Zelenka is deservedly a mainstream composer and I have over 40 CD's of his music including the wonderful late works and the Oratorios.

13-12-2006, 10:10 AM
Thanks, Andrew. I think you might be being an optimist when you call Zelenka a mainstream composer. Few people have heard of him, and not everyone who likes baroque music (which most think is J.S. Bach, Handel and Vivaldi) will take the trouble to listen to something "new".

And now you have to know what music you like in order to buy CDs - on the internet - because there are very few high street CD shops left where people can stumble on, or "Discover", Zelenka.

Let's hope that this great site and forum will make a difference. At least you can google to Zelenka!
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Andrew Hinds
13-12-2006, 06:02 PM
You've got to be right, Papermoon. Zelenka is only half-way to being mainstream and, for example, they are way behind in the USA with Zelenka. I have tried to find more but only have the one US CD to date. It is from the 1980's and I'm sure that they would do a lot better now if they would give it another try!
There are exceptional places where Zelenka CD's are readily available. The French FNAC shops usually have a choice of 7 or 8 Zelenka CD's. There is a FNAC just down from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and I have also visited their stores in Rheims & Grenoble with good results. FNAC in Geneva, too, had a wide range of baroque music. Someone at FNAC clearly has an interest in Zelenka and he seems to be more mainstream in France than in the UK. I get the impression too that some Japanese have taken him to their heart.
Andrew Hinds

Andrew Hinds
06-05-2007, 06:17 PM
One of my first chances to hear a Zelenka Mass was on a 33LP and I have not had a deck to play this music on for some years. It was Swiss Pan's Missa Circumcisionis. Much to my surprise when I was in Grenoble 2 days ago, I found the CD of this work (Swiss Pan 510013) and have been able to play it again.
The performance was a World-Premiere recording in 1982 and uses modern instruments. The performance is sensitive and utterly appropriate for the music. The commitment of the soloists and the trumpeters and woodwind reflects the fact that they realised that they had re-discovered a masterpiece. It is 25 years old so allowances have to be made but the soprano has a fine voice, wonderfully in tune and she blends well with the alto and other soloists. I like the tenor's unusual voice too. The sleeve notes say that at the recording session "the feeling of discovering a masterpiece was strong indeed".
Gibert Joseph, the French retail chain, had the CD on special offer (occasion) for 11.73 Euros and their price label had the references 061204 Ray:1595 OCC if anyone wishes to try to get a copy.
Alistair Kidd was not sure that the CD existed but I now have the proof!
Andrew Hinds

06-05-2007, 07:31 PM
Hi Andrew,
Thanks for your information about this CD. Coincidentally, I recently got the same information about the CD from three sources - from Japan, Norway (G. Reuss), and finally from SwissPan themselves. There were apparently two releases of the CD: 561 copies in January 1987 and 536 copies in February 1990, making only 1 097 copies in total!

There will be no re-release unfortunately, but SwissPan has kindly prepared a new digital transfer from the analogue master tape specially and it will soon be available on Discover Zelenka as a download for 12 euros. (7.5 euros go to SwissPan, and the rest goes to maintenance of this site). I will be posting 5 wav-files on the website as soon as I can, which will have the quality of the CD (if not better). These will take a longer time to download than MP3 files, but will be of superior quality. MP3 files can be prepared from them, of course, but the wav files are far better and can be used to make a "proper" CD.

I am very excited about this recording, as the other recording (on Christophorus) had never really encouraged me to get to know the work like the back of my hand (if you know what I mean). This other one is a gem - it is full of energy, has a fantastic sense of occasion, is very well performed, and has stunning sound quality. For once, it seems immaterial that modern instruments were used - as the result is far greater than the sum of the parts and is such a joy to listen to.

Shaun Wigley
07-05-2007, 04:39 AM
That's a great idea Alistair and should ensure the survival and availability of a rare recording.:)