Zelenka's colleague; Johann David Heinichen

  • Hello all,
    This is my first post here on the forum, so I'll introduce myself first.
    I am a student of almost twenty-one years old and I live in the Netherlands. I am very interested in the music of the Dresden court and in particular the music of Johann David Heinichen and Jan Dismas Zelenka.

    I know this forum is dedicated to Zelenka, but if allowed I would like to dedicate this post to Heinichen. Johann David Heinichen is a composer who, in my opinion, does not receive the appreciation he deserves. Although a few CDs have been dedicated to him in recent years, it does not seem that these lead to an increased appreciation for his work.
    When Heinichen is mentioned, he is often briefly mentioned as one of the composers who worked at the court of Dresden. It is rare that he is discussed as an individual composer.

    I think that's a shame because in my opinion he has a lot to offer as a composer. The first piece of his that I heard was his Missa no. 9 in D (1726). I was quite impressed by the grand orchestration and the interesting way in which he alternates strongly emotional arias with beautiful choral parts. Although not every part of this mass is particularly complex, it reveals an emotional world that remains hidden in many baroque masses (That world is also in Zelenka's). An example of this is the beautiful Crucifixus aria. Another interesting part is the conclusion of the Credo in which the chorus descends to the realm of the dead at the word mortuorum and finally rises again.
    Apart from masses 9, 11 and 12 (recorded by Rademann), as far as I know no other masses by Heinichen have been recorded. Quite strange in my opinion because you don't find many as colorful as his.

    Another beautiful work by him is his Magnificat in A (1729). It is only around twelve minutes long, but because of the diversity of the movements it feels much longer. In this work there is also a strong diversity between soli and tutti passages.

    I am very curious about the opinion of other members about Heinichen. How do you appreciate his work? Any additional info about him is greatly appreciated.

    In any case, it seems that sacred music by him has finally been recorded again. Ensemble Polyharmonique and the Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra have recorded the vespers and the Litaniae Sancti Xaverio from 1724. If my info is correct, the CD will be released next month.
    Hopefully this recording will lead to more interest in Heinichen's work.

  • Welcome! I've listened to the Rademann recordings dozens of times and the music is simply wonderful, I couldn't understand why more hasn't been recorded.

    I also found manuscript scans of some cantatas set in Italian, I'm not sure if they were recorded.

    Be sure to check out the Archiv recording of Lamentationes Jeremiae prophetae!

    And thank you very much for the info about the CD!

  • Nice to hear I'm not the only one who enjoys Heinichen's music!

    There is a recording of several of his Italian cantatas made by the Batzdorfer Hofkapelle. It is a very nice recording, especially countertenor Terry Wey excels.

    I wasn't very familiar with the Archiv recording of the Lamentationes, so thank you for your recommendation!
    It is a beautiful recording and it is fascinating to observe the differences and similarities between Zelenka's and Heinichen's settings of texts from the lamentations.

    Earlier, I thought the reason his other masses were not recorded had to do with the fact that the scores might have been damaged. But that's not the case for the most like for example his Missa 8 (May 1725): https://imslp.org/wiki/Missa_i…einichen%2C_Johann_David)
    However, some scores are in much worser shape as this project by the SLUB shows: https://www.slub-dresden.de/mi…ft/johann-david-heinichen
    There is also a Serenata (or Musica da tavola) for the name day of August the Strong from 1727 in the archives that seems really interesting.
    It just feels almost absurd that there are such richly orchestrated baroque works in the archives without ever having been heard by modern ears.

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