New zelenka cd by ensemble inegal

    According to a newsletter I got from Ensemble Inegal today, they are going to record Zelenka's first psalm cycle anno 1725 (if my PC translation from Czech doesn't betray me). The CD follows the first ever complete concert performance of this set of psalms (ZWV 66+72+75+82+83+108+97). Tickets for the concert in Prague on 20 April are also available now, see newsletter: http://ensembleinegal.onquanda…6d66dbf8485e03c0b2ae57df/


    Zelenka's psalms got some attention in the earlier phases of the modern JDZ revival during the 1970s and early 1980s, but have been strangely neglected by the original instruments ensembles that have dominated from the 1990s and later - until now. Only the "Magnificat" is commercially distributed in adequate interpretations today. Apparently Adam Victora & co. plan to record the more fragmentary 2nd and 3rd cycles as well. And several psalms from those two sets seem never to have been performed at all.

    Although I don't know the time schedule, it seems safe to assume that we now can look forward to receiving TWO beautiful Zelenka CD gifts next Christmas - one from Collegium 1704 and one from Ensemble Inegal. I'm sooo excited!!!

    PS: My personal favourite among the 1st cycle of Psalms is "Confitebor" ZWV 72, seen as a whole, and the mighty opening chorus from "In exitu Israel" ZWV 83, when speaking about single movements. But the set is also filled with several hauntingly beautiful "Amen" - endings. Does anyone else want to share their personal opinion on this?


  • Looking forward a lot to this!

    Ensemble Inégal have put up some photos of their premiere concert which was on the 20th of April in Prague (see their Facebook page).
    Adam Viktora also had a brief interview with a Czech program on the channel 'art':…v-kulture/215411000120419
    If you skip to the relevant section(9:46&10:35 mins in), we even hear a few snippets of the music itself, in a rehearsal. Immediately recognisable is the 'Suscepit Israel' section of the Magnificat, sounding marvellous. Then there is an amazing choral leaping section of another psalm, from Beatus Vir - which, in answer to SVF, is my favourite psalm of the collection, packed to the brim with dark drama and virtuosity.

    Speaking of the Amen fugues, I simply adore how they link to each other. The famous 'Amen' from the Magnificat takes on a different meaning when it is put in context with the other ones in the cycle - I think it provides a positive angelic answer to their dark highly chromatic feeling.
    Perhaps those fugues have some thematic & structural similarities? They certainly sound like they refer to each other, but that's just an opinion from a musicological layman like me ;)

    I wonder if there are more interesting links within this 1725 psalm cycle?

  • But.... no ZWV 82 apparently :( So, apart from the ZWV 108, it's going to be quite an intense (but certainly not dull!) disc. All 7 motets probably wouldn't have fit on a CD unless they took some breakneck tempi (the version reconstructed on youtube is 86 minutes long!). The Mag has been recorded so much (at least the trumpet version) and is now being performed all over the place so I would have thought it could have been left out and ZWV 82 included. Well, difficult choice... roll on 30.11

  • Hmm, interesting... if true, there must be a good reason for it's omission. Until we see the CD-liner in more detail, I'm hoping that it's just an error. Maybe they will record it and insert it into a future release (Psalmi Vespertini II or III perhaps)? It's easy to forget how much disc space is a restriction for projects like this.

    I still can't wait to get my hands on this. Here's a quote from Adam Viktora from an Opera Plus article last year:

    "I can tell you that before us again opened the bottomless treasury [of] Zelenka's inventive genius, and that this is an absolutely exceptional music in the European context. It is amazing ... how it is still largely unknown, [and] can be summarized in one word: amazing, incredible and unbelievable a hundred times."

    Thank-you Google Translate for that hilarious translation :rolleyes: - the "one word" was 'neuvěřitelné', which is (more or less) 'unbelievable' in Czech...

  • The works included on this new disc will be ZWV 66, 72, 75, 82, 83, 108, and 97.

    I can also tell you that Ensemble Inegal's "resident" soprano Gabriela Eibenova will not feature this time!

    Regards to all, Alistair

  • Now they have the full track listing (and final cover) shown at…asp?itemId=22939&level=51. The track-listing confirms Alistair's statement above that ZWV 82 (a rather jolly setting of Laudate Pueri) is indeed included. For the seven works on the disc the total time is 79:56, so that is one full disc (4 seconds away from perfection?!). As I mentioned above, to obtain that playing time, they must have been "digging it", so to speak! To give an idea, take the huge opening chorus of ZWV 83 which on the new disc has a play time of 7:02. The three other versions of this chorus play for 8:54 (Kühn mixed choir here), 7:38 (Collegium 1704 live here), 8:04 (A Brazilian ? performance here). To be 36 seconds quicker than the already fast Luks performance is going to take some and we can expect some quite dazzling solo lines there. Same applies to the Magnificat which clocks in at about the same speed as the recording by Capella Piccola, which, David Nelson refers in his survey on this site with "the tempo in the first two sections seems to me much too quick, forcing the soprano and choir almost to gabble".

    If Inegal have pulled this off (and with their pedigree there is no reason to suspect that they won't) then this is going to be mind-blowing high-energy disc. Wow, can't wait!!

  • Here is a "foretaste of the heavenly pleasures", courtesy of Adam Viktora:…-israel-zwv-83-first-part

    Wow, they nailed it! It's fast and furious but never sounds rushed. Compared to the other three versions available (see my previous posting, one old recording and two youtube postings of poor quality audio of performances, one of them by Collegium 1704) finally the full details of Zelenka's score are exposed. At this speed, the bursts of orchestral colour he threw in here and there particularly dazzle. Moreover, the choir danced like rams even when it was not called for in the text (:D) and the soloists had a fine day at the office too! The only thing that caught me was the final note: Apart from a complete lack of rallentando, they apparently decided to drop the quadrupole stop (a e' c'' a'') in the 2nd violins and get the 2nds double the 1sts on an a'. This makes the final chord seem rather abrupt and almost missing the need to draw a big fat line under those 7 minutes of highly energetic playing and singing. However, I reserve judgement till I hear the final disc. Perhaps the gap to the Gloria Patri will be extremely short and so we will spill abruptly into the, in contrast rather sickly sweet section, before returning quickly to the gritty and determined mood for the "atonal" fugue. Of course I cannot wait to hear the the latter having worked intensively on that for the keyboard transcription recently.

    I stated above that if the tempo necessary to cram the 7 works onto one CD can be achieved then it will be a mind-blowing disc. Judging by this pretaste, I was right. I cannot wait for the rest - it is going to arrive in the mail in the next few days. Unfortunately I ordered it to my wife and told her to give it me for xmas. So, please no more spoilers in the next three weeks :eek:

  • I cannot wait for the rest - it is going to arrive in the mail in the next few days. Unfortunately I ordered it to my wife and told her to give it me for xmas. So, please no more spoilers in the next three weeks :eek:

    ...Good luck, that's asking a lot! I'll keep my lips sealed, Xmas isn't too far away anyway.

    That sample is great, and each time I listen it comes across differently - a good sign, as it means there's a lot of depth and much to discover!

  • Rnkt, please don't read this ;)

    I got the CD yesterday by mail and have already listened to it three times. I't marvellous and would be worth full price just for the concluding fugue of Confitebor (world premiere recording). Tobias Hunger is fantastic, especially in his section of Dixit. The music and performance are very energetic ;) I have one small quibble: namely the intonation in the tenors in the choir in Dixit on the word 'dominare', where they are alone for a moment and well, should be dominating ;) : the're quite weak and almost flat! It's very interesting to listen to the De Profundis without the brass, I agree it suddenly is not Requiem-like, but fit for the vespers.

    ... and the ease with which the choir goes through the concluding fugue from In Exitu Israel should bring them highest praise only!

  • I can't help but spill out my thoughts too *SPOILERS* (rnkt beware)

    I was totally blown away. I locked myself in a room to hear the whole disc, on a wintry late afternoon going into evening (which was atmospherically superb, like a Vespers service!).
    I agree with Elwro on Tobias Hunger. I was particularly struck at how beautifully he sung the 'Sustinuit anima mea' aria in De Profundis. For me, it had the tone of a monk chanting, which worked well with the other actual chants used within the piece. In general, that piece felt like a perfect calm ending to the whole cycle - like candles being blown out in the dark.

    Speaking of which, though Zelenka most likely never had his psalm cycles performed together in one evening (As his memorandum at the end of the Inventarium shows, he mixed his own pieces with those that he had collected from other composers for a full Vespers service for any time of year), they do work extremely well side by side. For example: The opening of Confitebor had an other-worldly trance-like effect, what with its polyphony hearkening to the Renaissance (in fact, ZWV 72 was simply a masterpiece of human art). This contrasted well with the concerted vivacity of the previous 'Sicut erat' chorus of the Dixit. Later, the full-on torturous chromaticism of the Beatus was answered by the luscious positivity of the small-forces Laudate Pueri. Similarly, the Magnificat gave a welcome shock of trumpets & timpani (meaning that Inégal (wisely) chose to record the later version) which gave huge relief from the now-so-infamous In Exitu 'Amen' fugue.

    As per usual the soloists and musicians were superb, everyone had a chance to shine. The Lenka Cafourková (solo sop) / Peter Zajíček (solo violin) interplay was enthralling in the 'Redemptio' from Confitebor. Lisandro Abadie took centre stage many-a-time and won me over with his voice. The 'De torrente' from Dixit now has to be one of my favourite aria unison ritornellos, the strings undulate, pound away and reverberate, in what's a marvellous interpretation.

    I find it amazing that the recording history of ZWV 50/97 has now seen 3 completely different interpretations of tempi for the first movement (marked 'Largo' by Zelenka). Kuhn back in the 80s did it ridiculously fast, Dombrecht in the 90s did it a lot slower, but still with energy, and now Viktorá does it even slower. It's a case-study of how interpretation of Baroque music can vary so much over time and between interpreters. I am slowly (pardon the pun...) warming to Inégal's version - it gives a lot of space and perhaps gives the best reflection of the powerful psalm texts.

    I came out of that room and thought: I heard Zelenka for the first time all over again!


  • Hi all,

    As part of my doctoral dissertation I have produced performing editions of Zelenka's two unpublished 'Dixit Dominus' settings (ZWV 66 & 67). I'm hoping to get them published soon. Ensemble Inegal's recording of ZWV 66 is much better than the recording I made as part of a doctoral recital, but you can hear a free recording of it here:

    Mike Driscoll

    P.S. I have also made editions of 'Dixit Dominus' by Pitoni, Fabri (Schmitt?), and Ingegnieri, all three of which Zelenka arranged for use at the Dresden court chapel. They will be included in my dissertation thesis, which I hope to complete in April 2016.

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