And now the recording is complete and on IMSLP too! Enjoy!
Finally a new score from my piano transcriptions project. Sadly it's not the one I promised several of you (a Sonatarization of Credo of ZWV 21). That'll take more time.
However, my new arrangement will hopefully get you in the mood for the approaching Advent/Christmas period: It's a pastorale based on the extended opening and closing ritornelli of the Aria "Dormi, Deus incarnate" from one of the Christmas motets (ZWV 172) that Zelenka reworked from the Melodrama Sub olea pacis (ZWV 175) of 1723. As Zelenka writes for mostly a drone-like bass with 2 flutes and 2 recorders, it was fairly easy to transcribe. In one place hand crossing is needed in order to maintain the effect that Zelenka demands.
The arrangement can be found, as usual on IMSLP here . I will post a recording of the work in the coming days.
For those, like me, a little tired of the Corelli (Concerto Grosso), Bach (Christmas oratorio) and Handel (Messiah) pastorals - hopefully this is a breath of fresh air!
Thanks for pointing that out. I was on that page before and somehow overlooked the information on non-Bach sources! I do not know Benda well enough to judge if it is indeed by him. I still find it shows many of Zelenka's characteristics ... Maybe Benda got to know Zelenka's music during his training in a Jesuit college in Bohemia?
Great stuff! This sounds quite convincing. And no, I can’t recall this being mentioned in the literature, the reason perhaps being that CPE Bach’s cantata only recently resurfaced in the Sing-Akademie collection among a large cache of his works.
Then I hope that my lucky find is the tip of the iceberg and other examples of Bach's Zelenka recycling efforts will be uncovered. On that note I have now thoroughly listened to the Inauguration Cantata's disc (it was a live concert given in the Leipzig Thomaskirche on the exact 300th anniversary of CPE's birth in 2014). It's a very curious disc and I highly recommend it. I have to say, knowing Bach's other work pretty well, I am doubtful that most of the music of these cantatas is his original work (the recitatives maybe ). Besides Zelenka he was one of the most idiosyncratic composers of the 18th Century. I am missing that here (that is not to say he has not made big contributions in updating the orchestration, as we see in the ZWV 11 excerpt).
In particular there is one number on the disc that really catches my attention. That is the first chorus (Dich rühmen wir großer Schöpfer) of the other cantata on the disc (Wer sich rühmen will, H.821o). I have listened to it on repeat and tried to remove in my mind the somewhat tacky trumpets and drums. What is left could very easily be Zelenka - it carries many of his hallmarks, in particular the syncopation and the polyphonic choral writing. The German words also seem rather clunky in this chorus, suggesting it was previously in Latin. I am curious what you make of it. Could this be part of a missing psalm setting?
The last aria of the disc "Tritt hin, den heil'gen Eid zu schwören" is also blatantly not from CPE's pen. It could also quite reasonably be Zelenka but probably even more likely Hasse or a Neapolitan composer.
That second cantata was "written" in 1787 by the way. Extraordinary that Bach was churning out such music in the year when Mozart's Don Giovanni premièred!
Regarding the ZWV 19 Agnus, I always felt that that work was the closest of all of Zelenka's output to CPE's style. But since the general agreement seems to be that those last masses just laid in a drawer somewhere I put such Zelenka-CPE fantasies out of my mind. Now I am surprised and pleased that there may be something concrete to link these works and possibly confirm some influence of Zelenka on the young Bach.
The wonderful research tool that is Spotify strikes again. Whilst attempting to listen to some harmless flute concertos by Emmanuel Bach Spotify decided I really should hear a newly released recording of two of his so-called "inauguration cantatas" (available here). Except I only realized this after looking in shock to see what was being played - a somewhat jazzed up and German version of the "Et Vitam Venturi" section of the Credo of Zelenka's Missa Circumcisionis (ZWV 11). This turned out to be the the opening chorus of the first cantata on the disc "Ich will dem Herrn lobsingen" (H.821b) which was written in 1771, over 40 years after ZWV 11. Of course it is well known that Emmanuel Bach had a copy of ZWV 11 in his collection. However, I find nothing written anywhere (forgive me Bach/Zelenka scholars if this is long trodden territory!) about Bach actually parodying Zelenka's music in his own work (it is known he did this with other composers, especially Benda and of course papa JS).
Anyway, I thought I would post this because the disc is brand new (and very nice by the way) and is an interesting (and rare) opportunity to hear another composer's take on Zelenka. Bach's manuscript can also be seen online here. It seems that Zelenka's already quite energetic violin part was not snazzy enough for the tastes of the 1770s so Bach sends it into hyperdrive. He also ditches the horns and greatly expands the roles of Zelenka's 3 trumpets. The chorus and continuo seems to be pretty much identical to Zelenka, with the words and underlay changed to accommodate the German text of course.
One wonders what might have happened had CPE Bach had his hands on ZWV 19-21...
Indeed! It's going to be the "new" work - already on the festival website: http://www.zelenkafestival.cz/en/program-2017/
Did anyone else notice that Collegium 1704 is performing ZWV 21 at the Rudolfinium on October 3? http://www.collegium1704.com/d…50/missa-omnium-sanctorum
That's parallel to the Lamentationes concert by Collegium Marianum. Nice that Zelenka is hogging the Prague music scene (at least for that day), but what a dilemma!
Fortuntely there is a fairly simple solution: Collegium 1704 perform ZWV 21 on 2 October at the Annenkirche in Dresden as part of their music bridge series: http://www.collegium1704.com/d…52/missa-omnium-sanctorum.
Thanks for posting this. Congratulations on the very interesting dissertation (already noticed it recently at https://open.bu.edu/handle/2144/19581 ) and fantastic work on performing this charming little psalm setting. Sound's really great and I guess you have pipped Inégal to the premier (someone here can correct me if I am wrong, but I think ZWV 67 will appear on disc 4).
I can't help laughing each time I hear these over-exuberant leaps in the violins of the opening subject. More light has been cast onto Zelenka's sense of humour, surely...
Did you also perform the Italian Dixit settings that were reworked by Zelenka (also in your dissertation)? Would be great to hear those too.
Hmm, does that mean the listing on Inégal's website that they are doing ZWV 21 on 6 October in Prague and 7 October in Dresden (together with the Dresdner Kammerchor) is a decoy (to get in the punters like me who love their disc of ZWV 21) and in fact we are going to hear a "new" work? Would also not be a bad thing - I did tell Adam Viktora last October my hope that they would be looking at the earlier masses sometime. I was rather thinking of ZWV2/ZWV30 though...
This morning at my church's pentecostal service I directed (and sung tenor in ) a performance of Veni Creator Spiritus (ZWV 120). It is a fairly simple little verse hymn, nearly homophonic in texture with a few imitative passages. A great piece for an inexperienced choir, which ours is - I just started it, we have only four singers and this was our first ever performance. Especially, the sop and alto are young teenagers who have never before sung in a mixed voice choir - considering this they did extremely well. What a way to cut one's teeth with choral singing, on Zelenka!!
Anyway, we recorded the occasion and with the above disclaimer regarding this newly formed, amateur choir, I am happy to share the recording (also since it is possible that this is the first recording of any performance of this work): https://clyp.it/ddd12efc?token…6dec26b0aa57c97b0cb00fc9e (please ignore the child "singing" at ~2:10 - that's my toddler son who felt quite strongly that Zelenka should have added a 5th voice with the words "mama, papa" at that point).
Oh yes, and we sang in German - i didn't want to start a riot in our (rural village) church! Fortunately the words of Veni Creator Spiritus have a very good translation which fitted Zelenka's music perfectly. It is interesting, that even in German, this Zelenka chorale sounds distinctly different to a Bach chorale.
I will upload the modern edition to IMSLP soon. Some of you might know the original manuscript - it is one of the most illegible of all Zelenka manuscripts on account of the ink fading and also some (water) damage to the paper.
My copy of the new discs arrived yesterday and I just spent a transatlantic flight (waved to Johannes midway ) listening to every sonata in all three of the recordings that I have (the other two being the excellent Zefiro and 2nd Holliger discs). I liked much of the new recording but I have to say, all things considered (performance, technical aspects and overall "enjoyment") if I had to choose one recording it would still be the fantastic Zefiro disc which very happily came back on the market last year. However, I don't want to give anything specific away (some of you protected me from spoilers in the past ) and probably my choice is anyway very subjective. Whatever ... this new recording will be a vital addition to the discography of the Sonatas, that I am sure. I look forward to your impressions!
The cover is stunning by the way and the sleeve notes also pretty good, despite criticising the speculation made in the past regarding the reasons for composition/hidden meaning of these sonatas before going on to be rather speculative itself!
Thank you too Johannes, from my side for sharing this stash (plus great anecdotes). And great to see it just days after my first visit to that "holy ground" and while everything is still fresh in the mind. Unfortunately I had no time to go to any museums (or cocktail bars - just the tacky Sophienkeller), but next time I will certainly seek out that great model in your first two pictures.
Thank you also for directing me to the Wikipedia article on this building. I did not think to look for Opernhaus am Taschenberg and it is not linked from the Discover Zelenka website. The article that that Wikipedia page draws from (Hubert Ermisch: Das alte Archivgebäude am Taschenberge in Dresden, Dresden, 1888) is a truly fascinating read. Thank God someone took it on themselves to record the history of that building before it vanished from sight and memory forever. From that work one learns the truly unique multifunctional history of the building (opera house --> court church --> organ workshop (+ deathbed of Silbermann) --> indoor tennis court --> firewood store --> archive). Pity that he did not inform himself about the great and unique music that was composed for that church and the many fine musicians that performed there. Maybe there is something on this building in the Residenzschloss but really it needs a great big information table standing there, at the least (currently there is a titchy-tiny plaque on the wall only mentioning that there was a theater there but mostly focussing on the colonnade of the Residenzschloss - boring!).
More preferably there should be some kind of memorial erected on that (as far as I can see) pointless triangular traffic island (I know, the Wetten obelisk was there pre-1945) that stands between the outer fence of the residenzschloss and the Zwinger.
Or even better (in my wildest dreams): for the 275th anniversary of Zelenka's death (2020) they should erect a "replica" of the church (as far as the road allows). Nowadays you can easily make temporary structures out of scaffolding covered with painted fabric that look very realistic. Inside there could be a stage and seating and a series of concerts celebrating the music of Zelenka and co. Unfortunately that's only 3 years away and probably impossible to practically and financially realise. Overall, I sensed not much of a memory and pride of the great 18th Century Dresden music scene while there. It just seemed to be all Canaletto this, Canaletto that. Maybe I did not spend long enough there.
Anyway, as promised I will get back with more substantial observations another time!
I just returned from my first ever visit to Dresden. I was there on business (conference related to my research field) but did find a little time to potter around and fantasize over the earlier age of this city. I will prepare a more detailed summary of my musings (some of which might bring a new perspective) but for now I wanted to share something which directly resulted from my visit and which I am not sure is known by many of you: a photograph, possibly the only one in existence, showing the building in which the catholic court church was housed from 1708-1755. This can be seen here:
The building in question is below and slightly to the right of the main tower of the "Residenzschloss". Unfortunately only the end is visible, the side being obscured by one of the terrace pavilions of the Zwinger. However, it is clearly the same building as that shown in the sketch at the bottom right of the "workplace" on the Discover Zelenka website (here: http://jdzelenka.net/workplace.htm ). This photo clarifies the stated fact that the building was demolished to make way for the tramline. In fact the photograph shows the tramline was already built. So, it seems that the two coexisted for some years (I did not yet find out when the tramline was built). As noted on the Discover Zelenka page, the original building was T-shaped. It seems therefore that when the tramline was built the top of the "T" was lopped off, leaving a rectangular building.
The photo also makes clear the proximity of the old catholic court church and the Sophienkirche. At the latter, WF Bach was organist from 1733 to 1746. So his and Zelenka's workplaces were not just within a proverbial "stone's throw" of each other - the two could have literally exchanged a barrage of pebbles! Sadly there does not seem to be much written about the Zelenka-WF Bach relationship but one can assume there certainly was one.
Impressive indeed! Though I would have been prepared to wait another week if Skaf could also bring us the Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus from ZWV 20
Great stuff! It's a very close call but on most days this is probably my favourite mass by Mr Z - would be great if it was performed more. Your handiwork is not yet approved but the IMSLP mods but once it is I am very curious to see if you were true to Zelenka in bar 5 of the Cum sancto / Dona nobis in the first violins. That outrageous (and in fugual writing overall quite unprecedented) flourish does not seem to be in the published modern edition (Breitkopf) and is not played on the Bernius disc (it is however to be heard on the earlier, Guttler recording so I wonder if they performed from a different edition). I also wondered what you did with the Quoniam - when I recently transcribed that for piano (also on IMSLP) I noticed that Zelenka had been rather inconsistent with some of the figurations which recapitulate.
Perhaps you can do ZWV 14 next It's the most bombastic of all his masses and it's begging for more performances too.
I guess that could be answered by the question, why would an artist based in Belgium paint a picture featuring a musician based in Dresden? I think it is plausible only if Zelenka was, during the first 30 years of his life (of which we know practically nothing), on some kind of travels (to Belgium/France) and impressed on van den Bossche.
I think our best hope right now is the copper print which was shown in the Johannes's article. It shows an occasion where we know 100% that Zelenka was present and it shows an apparently bearded man who (it gets a bit subjective here) appears to be holding a violone and engaging the other players in a way you would expect from a musical director. I am able to process images to make them a bit clearer and I would really love to get hold of a high quality version of this picture so I can try to resolve more details.
p.s. where is the oboe in the van Bossche picture !!??
At last the great news that Inégal's Psalmi Vespertini II disc has been released:
Can be purchased here (disc only):
and here (download and disc):
And a first listening shows the album to be every bit the triumph expected following the sneak preview kindly provided by Czech Television! More to follow after a proper listen...
Impressed by these performances but slightly irritated by the raw audio quality (near-zero-reverb and resonating in the bass frequencies) I have spruced them up a little bit. Sets of improved mp3s can be found here:
In case the owner of the copyright of these recordings has a problem with me sharing these please send me a message and I will remove them immediately.
and is now planning to upload 371 of Bach's Chorales!
What a pity he stumbled across that Bach bloke. What more could an E-guitarist ask for than Zelenka? ZWV 92 would be particularly suitable...