Posts by rnkt

    Yeah, the performance is this Wednesday, 2 May 2018, at 19.30 in Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain in Prague. Massively jealous of anyone going there!

    Soloists are (one presumes for the CD too):

    Gabriela Eibenová, Lenka Cafourková – soprano
    Filippo Mineccia – alto
    Tobias Hunger – tenor
    Marián Krejčík – bass

    For me, these were the finest soloists of the first three discs. So, I'm really excited about this final psalms recording.

    It would be like having chalk & cheese. Which reminds me, after hearing it performed side by side with Missa Om. Sanct. ZWV21 in Prague in October last year (Coll 1704), someone told me that it "didn't stand a chance!". I personally do like the Bach Mass, though it's a bit clunky in places as Bach can sometimes be (IMO), although that's partly due to it being cantata parody.

    In terms of "exposure" I think we could not wish for more than Zelenka and Bach works being paired on CDs. Personally I think the perfect pairing of ZWV 14 would be Bach's 1733 Missa. The two works were composed within at most 18 months of each other, are for very similar forces and both intended to impress the Dresden authorities in some way. Not sure if it can be done under 80 minutes though!

    Yes, seems that the CD was in the can already last Monday, before the two concerts. This is my own translation from the Musik-Podium Facebook page (photo of the band and Lezhneva rehearsing here:(

    "At an age of over 50 years, Zelenka, following the example of the new opera seria, managed to pull off a little stylistic revolution, all by himself; whoever listens without prejudice would define the music as "galant" or "senstive", despite the vagueness of those terms. In any case, there is hardly any trace of Baroque seriousness and pathos or its uniformly driving rhythm. Instead we hear an inwardly directed differentiation, which is shown sometimes in an almost meditative love of detail, and at others in ecstatic choral jubilation." So writes the musicologist Uwe Schweikert in introduction to the Missa Sancti Josephi by the composer JD Zelenka, with which our ensembles will open the Stuttgart Baroque Festival on Thursday, 19 April at 8 pm in the Leonhardskirche. Already on Saturday Frieder Bernius rehearsed with the ensembles and soloists (here: Barockorchester Stuttgart and Julia Lezhneva, soprano). Today (16 April 2018) we will go to Gönningen, where the work will be recorded [in the Lutheran Church]. The CD will be released this autumn at Carus-Verlag!

    No word on what they are coupling with ZWV 14 on the CD. Presumably BWV 235 because they performed it too?

    In the programme we find that a cd with ZWV 14 will be completed this year

    YES! YES! YES!

    ZWV 14 is easily in my top 5 favourite Zelenka works and so I am overjoyed that a modern edition and Bernius recording will add to the excellent recording Inégal made a few years ago. As you wrote, this mass has everything and the overall shine of it shows a Zelenka clearly at the very top of his game (at a time, when, correct me if I am wrong, he already knew he would not become Kapellmeister). Besides that suckerpunch of a Cum Sancto fugue and the cleverly through-composed Kyrie-Christe-Kyrie and Sanctus-Hosanna this is one of the few Zelenka works where he includes obviously dance-like music, albeit in an almost sarcastic way (see the Laudamus Te and Quoniam). I think this is a nod to Princess Josepha in some way.

    I am not sure that much reconstruction of the mass is required - I worked from the manuscript a few years ago (see my piano transcription of the Quoniam) and found it to be very readable despite a little damage here and there. Or has Frieder Bernius written a Credo for ZWV14?

    This is really miserable stuff from the BBC. I really sat up when she said "when I started to read about him, the same three words kept coming up: neglected, melancholic and isolated. Well, we're putting Zelenka into rehab today...". I thought, finally they are going to start putting the facts straight and dispel what are basically unfounded rumours that have become normalized over the years without any contemporary evidence (the petitions are not enough because many court members were writing them when the "regime" changed).

    How wrong I was. Actually this drivel was not only hard on Zelenka but also very unfair on Heinichen and Hasse who happen to be pretty brilliant and unfairly neglected composers themselves. The "old and ailing Heinichen" (ailing he was, but not old - He was ~4 years Zelenka's younger!). And: "when the elector died in 1733 the composition of his requiem was entrusted not to Zelenka but to the frequently absent Hasse" (this is blatantly wrong - the Requiem and Responsories for August the Strong are one of Zelenka's greatest works!)

    It got worse: "Zelenka died .... more or less a broken man thanks to the continuing ignominy of his position at court and the deteriorating relationship between him and Hasse" (Proof or it didn't happen!)

    And also annoying: "He worked in such obscurity after his retirement that he wrote his last and most magnificent works with no hope of hearing them performed". They did not even play any of these magnificent works. I guess because they would rather not back up the narrative that he was "neglected, melancholic and isolated".

    And: "Indeed Telemann and Bach were among the very few who recognized his genius". Hmm, what about the Kittel poem, huh?

    Nothing on Zelenka's large scale projects (Responsoria, Psalmi Vespertini, Oratoria). Nothing on the many grand masses he composed for regular performance in the Dresden court. Nothing on the Zelenka "Brandenburgs", i.e the trio sonatas (only a mention of "small scale chamber works like trio sonatas"). Nothing on his highly successful 1723 Prague performances or on his amassing of a huge library of sacred and secular music (the latter especially for the training of italian singers). Nothing on his training of several excellent composers including Bach's immediate successor. Nothing on Il Diamante (performed by Hasse). Nothing on his fame for fugal writing or examples of his finest fugues. The BBC missed a huge open goal here, just for the sake of a tear-jerking story.

    Of course the music selected is nice (it's Zelenka afterall!). But it seems to have been selected to underline the bitter and melancholic character they wanted to portray. If I was to pick a Zelenka top 10 covering his whole career and abilities I would probably choose nearly none of these works. I hope that proves I know the real Zelenka infinitely better than these cowboys at the BBC.

    Short notice this but if anyone is in south west Germany this coming week (unfortunately not me) the brilliant Missa Sancti Josephi (ZWV 14) will be performed by the Kammerchor Stuttgart and Barockorchester Stuttgart under Frieder Bernius. The soloists are: Julia Lezhneva (quite sure she will absolutely own that wild solo that Zelenka places near the start of the Sanctus), Daniel Taylor and Tilman Lichdi
    The two performances are:

    18 April, Evangelische Stadtkirche Walldorf, 20.00
    19 April, Leonhardskirche, Stuttgart, 20.00

    Both performances also include Missa in G minor (BWV 235), a very nice work by the Lutheran Zelenka.

    Tickets available at:

    Thanks djdresden for showing me up for the fraud that I am! This work was indeed already performed - please forget my ignorant statement to the contrary in a posting above. The recording (highly recommended) confirms this to be a fine work and almost totally in the style of Zelenka! One number in the piece seems to stand out as not being so much influenced by him: the Qui tollis - an aria for soprano, strings and obbligato oboe. It's a Siciliano, a very fine one at that. Judging by Zelenka's usual highly satirical treatment of folk/dance-music in mass settings (see the Laudamus Te and Quoniam of ZWV 14 for prime examples) I am quite sure he rolled his eyes at Harrer's highly sentimental Siciliano but probably let it pass through because the lad did churn out some great fugues and used typical Zelenkan ostinatos in his Credo setting.

    I have to admit I fell immediately for Harrer's Siciliano and have already arranged it for piano - you can download it (plus a recording): here

    Listening to this you can imagine it played on a lute. Maybe Harrer heard Sylvius Leopold Weiss play this and decided to incorporate it into his mass. Discuss!

    ... and we have a winner!

    Andrew4handel has correctly identified our mystery fugue as coming from a mass by Gottlob Harrer! He has been rewarded for his efforts with a very rare edition of a portrait of Zelenka, signed by the big man himself (jealous anybody?)

    Harrer's mass can be seen at the SLUB digital archive here. The manuscript is dated 1735. So that's after the final mass that Zelenka composed for such forces and at a time when he was probably working on the great ss. trinitatis mass and the two big oratorios. When I wrote that Zelenka seemed to be lurking behind Harrer's fugue I meant it literally. According to the RISM entry there are several corrections and suggestions in Zelenka's hand throughout the manuscript. It would be interesting to know if this was just an exercise piece by his student or if the work was actually performed. Perhaps Johannes or someone familiar with the relevant records can enlighten us. In any case it seems to be a fine work. Given that Harrer was transcribing Zelenka's music since the 1720s it is no surprise that his style seems very much in the mould of his master. I shall be midi-fying more of it in due course so we can get an impression. But Andrew4handel is right - this is just one of many great works in the archive yet to be performed.

    Thanks also to Xanaseb for reminding me of Schürer - at a first glance his works are also very much worth a look to find Zelenka influence. The hints about instrumental music are very interesting too.

    I prefer to order from the original source - Nibiru:

    I am sure many (including me) would have loved to order it from Nibiru and support this great label "at the source". However, it took nearly a week from the CD being already available at (after being pre-advertised there since early December I should add) until the nibiru online shop was updated to include the new disc. If anyone here has a connections at Nibiru maybe they can suggest to have future discs online earlier, even before release as a "placeholder", like at

    It seems that work which is not by Zelenka but which is possibly or obviously inspired by him has not been discussed much. To get us started I have transcribed a rather grand "cum sancto spiritu" fugue from a mass in the digitized archive. A "midi" performance can be heard here. I am not smart enough to get the computer "choir" to sing words but I think you get the main idea! Obviously Zelenka is lurking large behind this fugue and one gets hints of both the equivalent section of ZWV 14 and even some of the great fugues of the last masses. So who wrote this? Before I tell all would anyone like to make an educated guess? Hint: it was written after 1729 (so that rules Heinichen out). I'll give you about a week ;)

    And please post any Zelenka-inspired works you know of!

    For those not yet aware of this, a complete recording of the sonatas will come out on 19 January, making it the third release of ZWV 181 in the last year or so (counting the re-release of Zefiro's fine disk of course). The new disc is performed by the Ensemble Berlin Prag which includes members of the Berlin Philharmonic, playing on modern instruments. It seems they have consulted Reinhard Goebel on baroque performance practice. He has also written the sleeve notes.

    A taste of the recording can already be had at the label (Supraphon) website:…elenka-triosonaty-zwv-181
    What is immediately apparent is that we are going to be in for a treat of the highest virtuosic order. It will certainly be the fastest recording of all - 5 minutes faster than Holliger's second recording and a whopping 13 minutes quicker in total playing time compared to the 1704 disk released last year!

    Interestingly the track run times of the fast movements are all the same as or slightly shorter than Holliger's and generally much shorter than the two best period instrument recordings (1704 and Zefiro). The slow movements seem to be taken extremely quick, something I cannot quite imagine right now, these being some of the most expressive works in all of Zelenka's output. So let's see if there is justification given for that. In general it will be particularly interesting to see how the new recording sizes up to the second Holliger disk (also on modern instruments).

    And here is the recording. In fact I recorded it twice: I played it once on the piano at Larghetto(ish) and once on the harpischord at a more sprightly allegretto, which fits that instrument better. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas everyone!

    Announcing another new Zelenka keyboard arrangement. I decided to couple the Pastorale based on the ZWV172 aria ritornello released a few weeks ago with an arrangement of the lovely aria (Dormi nate, dormi Deus) from Zelenka’s other Christmas motet (O magnum mysterium ZWV171).

    The new arrangement can be downloaded here.

    Like the one in ZWV 172, this aria was also distilled from Zelenka’s Melodrama for the 1723 Prague coronation fringe programme. It is an interesting work especially regarding the tempo markings (or lack of). As far as i can tell the melodrama aria does not have a tempo marked (like much of the music in the SLUB-held autograph score). However the words (all about the leaves of the olive tree of Bohemia spreading, bringing peace and prosperity and withstanding the winds of war) suggest, if anything, a fairly brisk tempo. Stryncl’s recording does indeed take this number at a fair old nick and it sounds great. You can sense that the repeating figures like c16-g16-c’8 are Zelenka’s representation of the leaves fluttering.

    The words of the Christmas motet version allude not to leaves and wind but to the sleeping baby in the hay. The music and scoring has been slightly changed (mostly modifications to the vocal line and the addition of two flutes or recorders). The score and various parts sets that have survived also state the tempo as “Larghetto”. So I think Zelenke expected the aria to be played rather slower than in the Melodrama. Played at this tempo the repeating figures can be imagined now to represent the gentle rocking of the crib and the whole aria rather like a lullaby (hence the title of my arrangement!). Also the descending figures of thirds above a drone bass are clear hints at the pastoral subject.

    Interestingly, of the two recordings I know, only one follows this tempo indication (Alex Potter with Cappricio Barockorchester) - in fact I would suggest they take it even slower than “Larghetto”. Thanks to Potter’s quite smooth, dreamy voice, the overall effect is very convincing. The other recording is by Stryncl and co and perhaps, having already recorded the Melodrama, they found it difficult to re-imagine this aria slowed down. So they take almost the same tempo as in their Melodrama version.

    Whatever the intentions, it is interesting to note that on the manuscript and some of the parts (especially the vocal part), at the start of the main subject in the vocal line it is written “vivace”. In the preceding recitative it is also marked “vivace” in two places. I am no expert in baroque tempo markings but is it correct to assume that this is not an indication of tempo but rather a request for “lively” rather than “plain” phrasing?

    Anyway, my arrangement can be played slow or fast, whatever you prefer. As usual, once I can play it myself (definitely Larghetto!) I will post a recording


    @Jan Dismas Zelenka: you missed an open goal in the last bar. You’re welcome ;)