Posts by djdresden

    Three upcoming radio concerts worth checking out:

    23 August at 20.00 (GMT+2) –

    Johann Friedrich Fasch:
    Suite für 2 Traversflöten, 2 Oboen, Fagott und Streicher
    Jan Dismas Zelenka:
    Immisit Dominus pestilentiam, Kantate
    Attendite et videte, Kantate
    Deus Dux fortissime, Kantate

    Hana Blažíková, Sopran
    Markéta Cukrová, Alt
    Tobias Hunger, Tenor
    Tomáš Král, Bass
    Julie Braná, Traversflöte
    Jana Semerádová, Traversflöte
    Chor und Orchester des Collegium Marianum Prag
    Leitung: Jana Semerádova
    St. Marienkirche Angermünde, 11.8.12

    25 August at 20.00 (GMT+2) –

    Zelenka Missa Omnium Sanctorum ZWV 21

    Vaclav Luks, Collegium 1704
    Live from the Utrecht Early Music Festival

    29 August at 20.00 (GMT+2) –

    Kuhnau - Magnificat
    Zelenka - Magnificat in C
    Zelenka - Magnificat in D
    J.S. Bach - Magnificat in D BWV 243

    Bach Collegium Japan
    o.l.v. Maasaki Suzuki
    Joanne Lunn [sopraan]
    Hannah Morison [sopraan]
    Margot Oitzinger [alt]
    Makoto Sakurada [tenor]
    Dominik Wörner [bas]
    From Utrecht

    It was fitting that the Polish musicologist Szymon Paczkowski chaired the session at Southampton. His discovery in 2007 of Kittel's Virtuosen poem from 1740 (see the relevant thread here in the Forum) is perhaps the single most important find for Zelenka research in recent times, because it showed how Zelenka's contemporaries experienced his music, and where he was placed in the hierarchy of the musical apparatus in Dresden (third, after Hasse and Faustina, the most famous musical couple of the 18th century). I can still remember when I first heard about this source and how it made me question everything that had been written about Zelenka, especially when it comes to the traditional image of Zelenka as an overshadowed composer held in low esteem by the Dresden court.

    And now, after many years of searching in the archives and libraries in Dresden and other locations, I have been able to uncover an abundance of new sources and biographical information which confirms Kittel's view. This has been considered and discussed with Janice Stockigt over a long period of time, and Southampton was the perfect occasion to present an overview of our conclusions. Our findings should help us to see Zelenka's legacy in new light, and question and challenge the usual image as it has been presented in the literature. What will hopefully follow is a complete reappraisal of his stature at the Dresden court, a court that was at the time considered by many to be the most brilliant in all of Europe, a court that only strived for the best in the arts and music, and this included employing the services of our composer.

    Stockigt's absolutely brilliant paper, simply called "Recent research", introduced these and other new archival findings, along with information on new musical sources etc. It was a landmark presentation from the most important scholar and authority on Zelenka and his life. For some time we have been working on a co-written article which will go into details about all the new discoveries, and this should appear in a publication next year. Until then I ask for your patience because it will be worth the wait. Here is the abstract from the conference book:

    Janice B. Stockigt:
    Jan Dismas Zelenka: Recent Research
    "More than one hundred years after the death of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745), Moritz Fürstenau wrote that this Dresden court church composer was a reserved, bigoted Catholic, but also a respectable, quiet, unassuming man deserving of the greatest respect – one who seemed to have lived a rather lonely and isolated life in Dresden. During the past decade research into the extensive documentation held at the Sächsisches Hauptstaatsarchiv in Dresden from the era of Saxon Electors Friedrich August I (August II as King of Poland) and Friedrich August II (August III as King of Poland) has revealed additional information on the life and surroundings of this Bohemian composer which leads to a re-evaluation of certain assumptions held by Fürstenau and subsequent opinions sustained in the literature. Building on research undertaken since the mid-twentieth century, and including more recent studies, this paper reappraises and expands upon aspects of Zelenka‘s life, his responsibilities, and his stature at the Dresden court. Locations at which he lived are identified. The precarious financial crises experienced by Zelenka, and the help he sought to alleviate these will be re-examined. Information on Zelenka’s death in December 1745 and the exequies held for him have become available, and recently recovered musical sources from Dresden and elsewhere will be reported."

    My presentation focused mainly on Zelenka's activities in the early 1730s and a discovery that I made in the library in Dresden (SLUB). I've already been asked by an editor of a music journal to publish an extended version of this paper, and it should appear late in 2013. Again I ask for your patience. Here is the abstract from the conference book:

    Jóhannes Ágústsson:
    The secular vocal music collection of Jan Dismas Zelenka: A reconstruction
    "Those who study the numerous manuscripts in the possession of the Dresden court church composer Jan Dismas Zelenka soon become aware of the numbering system he used to keep his collection in order. The numerals he wrote on the scores or the wrappers enclosing them match the position of the same works listed in different sections of his Inventarium of sacred music. The presence of these numbers can be taken as firm evidence of his ownership. While it has been acknowledged that Zelenka owned a few manuscripts of operatic arias, no research has been undertaken on this subject. During a systematic trawl in the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden I found what are possibly the remnants of Zelenka’s private collection of arias, duets and cantatas. All these manuscripts are numbered in the usual way by the owner, and this fact strongly suggests that Zelenka prepared another inventory, today lost, for his collection of secular vocal music. This paper proposes that this fascinating selection, which includes works by some of the best known composers of the day, was acquired and used by Zelenka for study and performance during a period when he served as acting Kapellmeister between the death of Heinichen in 1729 and the arrival of Hasse in 1734. A partial reconstruction based on a royal catalogue fragment from ca. 1743 will be provided, and further little-known aspects of Zelenka’s life during the interregnum will be discussed."

    Our two papers were followed by Roberto Scoccimarro's detailed analysis of Zelenka's settings of the Marian Antiphons, while Patricia Corbin gave an overview of the musical structure of the Missa Dei Filii, using musical examples to make her point, as well as sharing her experience as a director/performer of the work. I hope that both will publish and share their valuable insights. Here are the abstracts of their papers, as copied from the conference book:

    Roberto Scoccimarro:
    Jan Dismas Zelenka's settings of the Marian Antiphons
    "Between 1724 and 1738 Jan Dismas Zelenka composed nineteen Marian Antiphons. The group of these works covers a long period of the composer's career and unfolds an astonishing variety of technical solutions. The setting of the Regina coeli Z129, composed after 1728, for example, shows two slow choral sections on the whole text, which are followed by a third section in tempo Vivace. On the other side, another setting of the same antiphon, Z129 (composed 1729), is conceived in only one movement in concertato-style. In the later composed Regina coeli Z133, we can observe a first section with a duet for oboes 'concertanti' and at the same time a line in half notes in the style of a cantus firmus. This section appears again after a second one in 3/2 time signature, so that the composer shows the intention to use, among other possibilities, the Da Capo-form. An extraordinary rhythmical richness is shown in the antiphon Alma redemptoris mater Z126, in which the last text line, 'Peccatorum miserere', builds an autonomous section characterized by the use of chromatic writing. Another setting of Alma redemptoris mater, Z127, begins with a fugal exposition for four voices, but continues with two very different sections. On the basis of these examples it is clear that Zelenka searched for individual, ambitious solutions not only in works of vast dimensions, like the last masses, but also in the setting of short texts like the antiphons. The goal of this paper is, after an analysis of the nineteen works, to understand the relation between the text and the musical sections and more generally the meaning of such a wide spectrum of experimentations. Was Zelenka's intention only to show the spread of his compositional skills, or did he want to explore the depth of the liturgical text through an unsuspected variety of musical settings?"

    Patricia Corbin:
    The Missa Dei Filii ZWV 20: An introduction to the late Masses of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)
    "During the eighteenth century the Dresden court of August II, Elector of Saxony, better known as 'August the Strong', and his son, August III, was a major cultural center in Europe that attracted some of the finest musicians in Europe. One of those musicians was the Bohemian composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. At the turn of the eighteenth century, August II and his son converted to Catholicism for political reasons. Music was needed for the newly established Catholic services and many of the musicians in court were called upon to supply it. Jan Dismas Zelenka was one of those musicians. From 1710 until his death in 1745, Zelenka was employed as a violonist in the court orchestra. While travelling with the Electoral Prince in Vienna and Venice, between 1716-1719, Zelenka had the opportunity to study polyphonic composition with Johann Fux in Vienna, as well as the emerging 'Italian' style. In 1733, opera composer Johann Adolf Hasse, was appointed Dresden Kapellmeister and brought the newer Italian operatic style to Dresden and was enthusiastically received by the court. Zelenka, whose archaic compositional style was falling out of favour, had to incorporate more of this new Italian style into his later compositions. The Missa Dei Filii is one of Zelenka's later works and shows the extreme contrasts of teh archaic stile antico tradition as well as the newer stilo moderno practices. The virtuosic demands on the singers and instrumentalists give insight into the caliber of musicians employed at the Dresden court."

    It was a good day for Zelenka.


    I'd welcome a new complete recording of the orchestral works. Of the two existing recordings Camerata Bern has its charm for historical reasons but I don't revisit that often. Sonnentheil and DNEO, well that's a love/hate relationship, sometimes the music is truly elegant and inspiring in the slow parts, while at other times I feel like giving them a hard kick up the backside.

    Having heard the Freiburger Barockorchester play some of these works live in the past few years I think they are the ideal group of virtuosos for this repertoire. They surely love playing Zelenka's music, he's an ever present composer in their concerts and the broadcast of their Missa Dei Filii last December presents the outstanding version of that work so far in my opinion. There is more to look forward to from the Freiburgers next year, when they will perform the oratorio I penitenti ZWV 63 during Easter.

    Their majestic Zelenka/Pisendel CD is always one of my favorite recordings of the Dresden baroque. But I also like Dombrecht and Il Fondamento's Prague 1723 CD, which is full of spirit and expression.

    This is great news Alistair and many thanks to KingMaximilian for his role in this. I've donated 80 Euros and hope that others will follow suit.

    Best wishes to all from Dresden,

    WOW. I really hope everyone has bought this CD. It has hardly left my player since it arrived last month. Stunningly performed by Collegium Marianum, as David Nelson rightly says in his survey, with Hana Blazikova in fantastic form along with Tomas Král, who has been excellent in the last few Zelenka recordings. And the music is so amazingly beautiful, the arias, the choruses, everything is just perfect here. I consider this to be one of the greatest and most important releases of Zelenka's music.

    Well, after having lived with the CD for some time I must say how happy I am with the outcome. The Christe eleison is deeply moving aria and well interpreted by Kai Wessel. Here, the string playing is absolutely out of this world. One senses Zelenka's complete mastery when it comes to the word painting and orchestral effects. The Barbara dira effera! is another rocket in the spirit of Il Diamante, a collage of familiar themes. Adam Viktora has done us Zelenka fans great service by bringing out this motet and the serenata, which show that our composer was well capable of writing some terrific music in the operatic style with his unique voice – in spite of what some of the musicologist say.

    Bernius is a tough act to follow when it comes to the Missa Omnium Sanctorum, I think most of us agree on that. His is a fine version which is hard to critizise. There is one thing I do admire with Bernius – the intensity and excitement of the music making can always be felt. As I have stated elsewhere in the Forum, I still feel that his reading of the Missa Dei Patris is the pinnacle of all Zelenka recordings.

    Adam Viktora's version of ZWV 21 is wonderful as well, and of course different. Well performed as usual by Ensemble Inegal, it has got convincing and natural tempos, good singing (by a smaller choir than Bernius uses), and most of all, a reading committed to Zelenka's autograph. It sounds "sharper", more precise. There are some things that Bernius interpreted differently when it comes to the autograph. This I learned last summer while visiting Prague in the company of Zelenka scholar Janice Stockigt.

    We had the pleasure to spend a day with Adam and Gabriela and their lovely kids. I had brought a copy of the autograph from Dresden for Adam in preparation of the recording, and was thrilled to listen in when he and Janice discussed the different instructions and important details that Zelenka left in the score. One of the things I remember is that Zelenka's idea of using legato "Et vitam..." and staccato "Amen" simultaneously, was mentioned as being a good example of his orginality: I took note because like Elwro, I love this movement. Zelenka has used this to good effect before, for example in the Cum sancto spiritu in Missa S. Josephi, and in the Pleni sunt coeli in Missa Purificationis.

    So now we have two great versions of Zelenka's last Mass. I do wonder if we'll get the third one soon? I see that Vaclav Luks and his Collegium 1704 will be performing the work late next year, that is very exciting news. Anyway, I must add that now that we've heard Adam's reading with all its attention to detail, I do wish he will continue to give us more of the late Masses. Be sure, I have already made that request to him, on more than one occasion!


    I've always found Martinu's music to be strikingly original, and was listening to him years before my interest in Zelenka. From what I learned at the time he was curious and attentive about the music of the past, and sought inspiration from it, just like Zelenka. Martinu's music presents a real challenge for the listener, so this is a good observation paperMoon.

    Please let me hear that Mass Elwro! And, every admirer of the Dresden church music should have Peter Köpp's recording of two Naumann Masses (Ars Musici), to hear how the sound evolved in the second half of 18th century Dresden. This is relentless and brilliant music with often familiar patterns and, yes, crafty goosebumpy fugues.

    And we shall be able to hear the results soon afterwards – this will be broadcast by MDR Figaro on 18 December, at 19.30:
    EBU Christmas Day - Konzert aus Prag
    Jan Dismas Zelenka: - Magnificat in C, ZWV 107 - Missa Nativitatis Domini, ZWV 8
    Barbora Sojková, Sopran; Sylva Cmugrová, Alt; Jan Ondrejka, Tenor; Tomás Král, Bariton Musica Florea, Leitung: Marek Stryncl (Aufnahme aus der Kirche der Heiligen St. Simon und Juda, Prag).

    Later that evening, at 21.30, the Missa Dei Filii will be broadcast, also as a part of the EBU Christmas Day:
    Johann Sebastian Bach: - Brandenburgisches Konzert Nr. 1 F-Dur BWV 1046 - Kantate BWV 62 "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland"
    Jan Dismas Zelenka: Missa Dei Filii ZWV 20 Collegium Vocale Gent, Freiburger Barockorchester:D , Leitung: Marcus Creed (Aufnahme aus der Stuttgarter Liederhalle)

    And the wonderful Missa Nativitatis will also be performed by Robert Hugo's Capella Regia in a proper Christmas Midnight Mass on 24 December in the St. Salvator Church in Prague, starting at 23.55.

    Pretty amazing all this Zelenka activity!!

    Hi Osbert,

    leading up to this weeks concerts with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra – which I am sure you will attend! – can you be on the lookout for a recording, perhaps by ABC? It's a major moment, with the Il Diamante selection and the great Minasi being the guest director – that man is a genius. Hear what he did with the famous Montanari Giga from the Pisendel collection:

    Pisendel's copy can be seen here:

    It is simply awesome to know that Zelenka's aria for Venere will performed. It's truly one of the most beautiful arias he wrote.

    I am glad to add to the listings above: The mighty Freiburger Barockorchester will be performing Missa Dei Filii in several cities in Europe in December. See: Given that many of FBO's concerts are broadcast, we are likely to be able to hear it.

    And, I've heard that Hengelbrock's Missa Dei Filii concert in Amsterdam will be broadcast live on EPS, the Dutch public broadcaster, likely at

    All these concerts with Zelenka's majestic music – being performed by many of the best orchestras of today – show how far the Zelenka renaissance has come.

    But, according to the website when reviewing the Tafelmusik performance above, Zelenka's "music is rarely heard outside of his Czech homeland.", perhaps because "Bach is “glorious” and where Zelenka doesn’t quite make the grade." :rolleyes:

    This reminds me of a review in one of the papers here for a concert in Reykjavik, where one of Zelenka's Trio Sonatas was being played alongside a Bach piece: The difference was that of a Czech Skoda and a Mercedes Benz! :D

    To add to the Canadian performance (and the one in Devon on 1 October), Missa Votiva is being premiered in Asia, according to the website of the National Theater Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan:

    "A collaborated effort between the East and the West, The Night of the Baroque Choral Music will be presented by the Taipei Male Choir, the recent Golden Award winner of the German Harmonie Festival along with Frauen des Dresdener Kammerchores, led by the remarkable German conductor Hans-Christoph Rademann, as well as Dresdner Barockorchester, which will accompany the performance with 17 Baroque period instruments. Programs include German composer Johann Georg Pisendel's Sonata in c Minor, a vivid representation of the delicate Dresden royal court atmosphere, and Czeck composer Jan Dismas Zelenka's Missa Votiva e-Moll ZWV18, a jewel of the Dresden royal court which is finally making its premiere in Asia."

    This amazing concert will take place on 14 October.…5313ffebd0131469451550136

    On return to Saxony, the Dresdner Barockorchester will perform Missa Dei Filii twice, in Freiburg and Dresden on 10 and 11 December.

    And Thomas Hengelbrock and Balthasar Neumann Ensemble will also be performing Missa Dei Filii on their anniversary tour:

    Jubiläumstour (III)
    Zelenka: Missa Dei Filii; Bach: Magnificat
    Balthasar-Neumann-Chor und -Ensemble
    Leitung: Thomas Hengelbrock
    24.11. Freiburg, Johanneskirche
    25.11. Düsseldorf, Tonhalle
    26.11. Neumarkt, Reitstadel
    28.11. Berlin, Konzerthaus
    29.11. Lissabon, Gulbenkian Foundation
    01.12. Ludwigsburg, Forum more
    02.12. Dortmund, Konzerthaus
    03.12. Amsterdam, Concertgebouw
    04.12. Zürich, Tonhalle


    two major concerts by Vaclav Luks and Collegium 1704 will be broadcast online as follows:

    Wednesday 14 September, 14:00 (local time): Zelenka's majestic Te Deum ZWV 146, plus a Cantata and a Suite by Bach. Recording from the Festival de la Chaise Deu, 20 August 2011.

    Friday 7 October, 20:00 (local time): Zelenka's Hipocondrie, Barbara dira effera!, and Laetatus sum. Also one Handel Cantata and Concerto Grosso. Recording from an upcoming concert in Hamburg, 23 September 2011.


    Adam Viktora, Gabriela Eibenová and Ensemble Inégale played a well received concert at the Lufthansa Festival in London last month. Fortunately it was recorded and will be broadcast on BBC3 on Sunday 5th June at 13:00 UK time. Two Zelenka works, plus Brentner and old Bach:
    Zelenka Alma redepmptoris mater
    Brentner Concerto No.4 in G major (from Horae pomeridianae)
    Zelenka Salve regina
    Bach Cantata 'Ich habe genug', BWV82
    Brentner Concerto No.1 in G minor (from Horae pomeridianae)

    Ensemble Inégale will perform Missa Omnium Sanctorum and Barbara dira effera in Prague 28 June, in preparation for the upcoming recording.

    More Zelenka concerts to look out for: I've already mentioned the Berlin Potsdam Festival where Ristori's Calandro is being performed. The festival is dedicated to Dresden and the program is really exciting, see: The fantastic bassoonist Sergio Azzolini and L'Aura Soave Cremona will play ZWV 186, Fasch and Telemann. This should be a great concert. The orchestra is boiling hot these days and last year's recording with the Vivaldi Bassoon Concertos on Naive must count as one of the most amazing baroque releases ever. Hopefully this, and other concerts will be broadcast through Deutschlandradio –, or On 17 June, the excellent Ricercar Consort (their Bach recordings on the Mirare label are a revelation) will perform parts of ZWV 16, plus Lotti, Palestrina and Bach's 1733 Kyrie and Gloria. The next day Vaclav Luks and Collegium 1704 play the third Trio Sonata of Zelenka plus works by Reichenauer, Tuma and Stölzel etc.

    Luks and his colleagues are busy as ever promoting our composer; on 4 June they play a Zelenka/Handel program at the Handel Festspiele in Halle, and more Zelenka is lined up for the summer: – I am looking forward to see them in a Monteverdi/Schütz program in Prague next week.

    Another concert worth checking out has one of our favourite Zelenka interpreters, H.C. Rademann, conducting Akademie f. Alte Musik Berlin and the Dresdner Kammerchor, in a program of Bach, Hasse, and Zelenka's Lamentation no. 1, at the Bachfest Leipzig. Live on on 14 June, 20:00 German time.


    Thanks SK, for the sharing the link to Mengelberg's important book, and the post about Ristori. This calls for a short update on this front:

    While the vast majority of Ristori's sacred works are lost from Dresden, the good news is that some copies have been turning up in Poland, and especially in the Czech Republic, where a number of Masses exist.

    Recently, scans of many of his secular works, operas, arias, cantatas and serenatas have been put online in the SLUB website for all to see and admire.

    In June, his Calandro will be performed in Berlin, see:

    A reminder that the new recording of the Divoti Affetti sacred duets, is now out on Accent as earlier announced here in the Forum.

    Last November I gave a paper about Ristori's remarkable time in Naples 1738-40, at the Pergolesi conference in Dresden. The proceedings will be published next year. It has now become clear that at the time, Ristori played an important role in the transmission of Neopolitan baroque music North of the Alps. For more on this fascinating topic, which surely should be of interest to Zelenka fans, I can recommend Claudio Bacciagaluppi's fantastic book on the Neopolitan Masses in Europe. It has a great chapter on the Naples sources found in Dresden, including the copies in Zelenka's collection, and also what Claudio calls "Ristoris Sammlung":
    Claudio Bacciagaluppi, Rom, Prag, Dresden: Pergolesi und die Neapolitanische Messe in Europa, Kassel, Bärenreiter, 2010 (Schweizer Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft, 14).


    Thanks Alistair, this is of course absolutely terrific news which will get the champagne flowing my quarters! The mighty Ensemble Inégal to tackle the last Mass is a mouthwatering thought. The Bernius CD is a great inspired recording which is hard to fault, but Adam and his fantastic group are so burning hot these days it promises to be something extraordinary.

    And finally we will get to hear that Barbara dira effera, which someone described as a "rage aria for the church", when Musica Antiqua Köln (MAK, RIP) performed it on their farewell tour in the US in 2006. Ever since reading Jan Stockigt's stark criticism of this work in her book, I've been dying to hear it. The leader of MAK, Reinhard Goebel, felt the same; in his opening remarks for the Pisendel conference in Dresden in 2005, he talked about Jan's book (lavishing praise on it) and how her description of Barbara dira effera made him very curious to check it out, which resulted in that he felt compelled to perform it with his band.

    The Icelandic Zelenka renaissance keeps gathering pace: Missa Votiva ZWV 18 is to be performed in Fella- og Hólakirkja, Reykjavik, not only once, but twice in the next couple of weeks! The brave choir is Söngsveitin Fílharmónía, directed by Magnús Ragnarsson, plus the baroque group Bachsveitin í Skálholti and team of good icelandic singers. The dates are 20 and 23 March, and I'll see you there...