ZWV 6, ZWV 140, Stoelzel's Missa in E Minor

  • The German Consulate in Krakow has kindly decided to sponsor the CD release of a recording of Missa Fidei ZWV 6, Salve Regina ZWV 140 and Stoelzel's Missa in E Minor (as well as an organ piece by Bohm) made last year by Kantorei Sankt Barbara, L'Estate Armonico orchestra under the direction of W. Delimat. What I know now is that there'll be a concert on the 27th of November 2016 (in Krakow) when the CD will be officially presented. I don't know what pieces will be performed, but presumably parts of the recorded works.

  • The disc arrived today and it is a complete joy. It's not every day you get to hear a Zelenka mass for the first time and it turns out that Missa Fidei (ZWV 6) is an absolute peach even though it seems only the Kyrie and Gloria have survived. I had never looked at the score and did not know when it was composed, but following my first listen I thought to myself, I'd bet my house on it being penned in late 1725. Bingo! Those of you who were, like me, blown away by Inégal's Psalmi Verspertini I disc from late last year will find that this new release of ZWV 6 is a perfect partner to that disc. Fidei is dated November 1725, exactly when Zelenka was churning out his first vespers cycle. In that cycle Zelenka seems to be experimenting a lot with through-composed works (Dixit, Confitebor) or by having themes which unify whole works (e.g. Beatus vir). The mass is definitely in this vein. For instance the Kyrie theme (which is uncannily similar to the first theme of Laudate Pueri, ZWV 82 which is dated only 18 days earlier) is fused with the Christe theme to make a double fugue for the second Kyrie. And then the Gloria is unified by the recurring acclamation of Laudamus te etc... When I first heard that I immediately thought of Missa dei Filii from 15 or so years later. It's kind of the same trick (though much less complex), and actually the Laudamus te theme is almost the same, just inverted. Finally, there is a rather experimental-sounding "Amen", quite like those in the Vespers settings.

    So this premiere recording of ZWV 6 is a very timely and wholly enjoyable experience. Congratulations go to all the performers, who absolutely nailed it. The soloists are very fine and Sop and Alto do well to hit Zelenka's absolutely fiendish first entries in the Gloria (he could be quite a meany couldn't he?!). For me their highlight though is in the Qui tollis II - a wonderful duet in antiphony with the two oboes.

    The disc ends with a very fine and moving performance of one of Zelenka's Salve Regina settings (ZWV 140). Those who don't (yet) have the disc can download it on this thread.

    Also on the disc is the premiere recording of a mass by Stölzel, a composer I only knew from a rather beautiful trio sonata I found in my school music library in the 90s. I think I read somewhere that Stölzel had more to do with JS Bach than Zelenka. However, the style of this mass is actually more in the direction of the latter (let's say north european-italian fusion). While it is much more conventional than Zelenka, there are some lovely moments, like the echos between the soloist, oboes and violins in the Laudamus Te. And the Crucifixus is very poignant and in the stilo antico (possibly even a parody of a much earlier work). Stölzel shows his true colours at the end though with a cheeky and cheesy quotation of Pachelbel's canon on the words "Dona nobis pacem" (at least that is what it sounds like). A more serene and reflective end to a mass would be hard to find...

    The choral works are framed by some very stylishly played organ works by Pachelbel and Böhm.

    Many thanks Elwro for making this disc possible through your transcriptions of the manuscripts and of course thanks so much for sending out the recording to Zelenka devotees, who I am sure are gobbling it up just like me! Fingers crossed you have another Zelenka premiere recording in the pipeline ;)

  • It brings me great joy to read such words of praise :) I'm so happy the disc actually arrived and that you like it! I was a bit worried about how the disc would be received, you know, e.g. due to the omission of the bassoon from the BC section.

    Those Gloria entries were attempted a few times ;)

    Remember that Stölzel is the author of "J.S. Bach's" Bist du be mir!

    Testudo, I will probably be able to acquire the next batch of CDs today, and I'll contact you. I haven't forgotten.

  • Mine just arrived today! I'm quite amazed to hear it flowing and balanced so nicely (I was lucky enough to have already heard most of it in unedited form ;) ). I was surprised and charmed yet again by Zelenka's insertion of the Palestrina-esque soloist quartet for the Qui Tollis I, which precedes that lovely duet with the oboes that rnkt highlights. I think that this is one of the most tranquil and effortlessly sweet-sounding Masses that Zelenka ever composed. It relaxed and cheered me up! Contrast that to ZWV 2-4 which can be at times rather intense and awkward with all his experimenting (Zwv 1 Missa Sanctae Caecilliae is quite different and restrained. Here is a poor-quality audio performance if you haven't heard it before). Although, it goes without saying that I'd look forward to hearing all them recorded too some day. For eg.) The Gregorian-chant Agnus Dei fugue for ZWV 3 totally blew my mind, and that was just from a mp3 mock-up xD...

    I can't wait to hear the rest of the disc when I have the chance.

    Thank-you Elwro & co.!

    PS. A bassoon would have been great indeed, but this time round I even forgot that it should be there! Beggars can't be choosers :)

  • Contrast that to ZWV 2-4 which can be at times rather intense and awkward with all his experimenting (Zwv 1 Missa Sanctae Caecilliae is quite different and restrained. ... Although, it goes without saying that I'd look forward to hearing all them recorded too some day.

    Indeed they are all brilliant and in no way should be gathering dust! It seems that we are gradually working our way backwards through Zelenka's life regarding recordings of his vocal music, especially the masses. But it would be good if someone takes the plunge and makes a recording of his very earliest masses. This is music which I am sure made a huge impact in its time and is begging to be heard again. As you note, ZWV 1 is really lovely and one can get an inkling from that "brave" Texas performance that Zelenka is kicking off his mass-writing career on quite a swagger. Actually we also already have a taste of some of it from the stuff he reused in ZWV59 - on the Sepolcri disc. Also Missa Judica Me (we are pretty sure it can be reconstructed from ZWV 26, ZWV 30, ZWV 2, ZWV 26) is an absolute must as it is simply immense and must have terrified the wits out of the performers and congregation in equal measure. I would propose Collegium 1704 does ZWV 1 (it is lyrical like Divi Xaverii) and Inégal does ZWV2 (because it is violent like the Gloria of ZWV 17 and the Credo of ZWV 21 which they executed impeccably) ... but they'll first need 3 'bones :)

    And now you convinced me of the brilliance of ZWV 3 too! Much to do...

  • I can then imagine them [whoever they might be] doing a complete Zelenka Masses box set or something, dividing them into groups for his various periods of composition style. Too bad Missa Spei is missing; then we'd have a 'Theological Virtues' set (ZWV 5, 6, 10 (Charitatis))...

    Also for those who've not heard it before, here's the ZWV 3 synthetic audio Agnus Dei on youtube (and the rest of the Mass (which was composed without a Gloria apparently) you can find in the e-downloads of )

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