Posts by KingMaximilian

    Hello everyone,


    After a long period, injuries sustained from various campaigns, and many adventures, the new Discover Zelenka has been released (see https://www.jdzelenka.net ;)). Although some sections are still under construction (and will be for at least a little longer), the site's re-design has been accomplished. If you notice anything anomalous as you browse through, or if you wish to express your admiration (or conversely), please write an honourable letter on parchment and address it to me at "The Online Summer Palace of King Maximilian the First" -- i.e. just send me a quick e-mail :D.


    It would be great to see the site's content translated into several other languages in the future, e.g. German, French and Dutch. The task is not as onerous as it may seem... Probably using Google translate and fixing the errors would be sufficient to produce something that, while maybe not ideal, would nonetheless be better than what visitors would receive by relying solely on Google. Please let me know if you would be interested in doing this.


    Over the coming weeks I hope to migrate the forum also. Please save any Personal Messages (PMs) you may wish to keep as soon as you can, as unfortunately these cannot be transferred.


    Viva Zelenka!


    Best wishes,
    -- King Max

    Andrew Faltonson, who runs the online webcast "Visage: An Exploration through the Centuries in Music", will be presenting the music of Zelenka during October 2018, at http://dru9999.wixsite.com/resonant-dwarf/visage


    Zelenka will be Andrew's 'Composer in Resonance' for the month of October, and on October 16th he will be presenting 24 hours of Zelenka's music during the webcast. The program is/will also be available on iTunes.


    (Thanks to Andrew for providing this information)

    The sea was somewhat rough, but it seems the ship has arrived at port and the transfer is complete.


    Onto the next adventure then: transitioning to a new-look site and new forum software.


    Stay tuned! :)


    -- King Max

    Well, time does go by quickly! But then, ruling over a whole empire is not an easy task :rolleyes:.


    I wanted to let everyone know that, after a long wait, the time has come to finally transfer Discover Zelenka: first the "background" of jdzelenka.net and the forum (you won't see any changes at all initially), and then transitioning to a new look and new forum software. I should add that the "new look" site is not ready yet, however, this week-end (June 23/24) the "background" of the site will be moved over to a new web hosting provider, so there may be some downtime -- both of the site and the forum. Hopefully not for too long though! I will write again and place my seal on the letter when this is complete... :)


    This also marks the end of Alistair's last efforts in maintaining Discover Zelenka, which he has been continuing to do quietly while I have been busy with wars, conquering countries, building palaces, etc. :p I would like to take this opportunity to thank Alistair for all his efforts, not only in creating this wonderful site (of course!) but also continuing to make small adjustments over the last year.


    And now, let's all hold tight while the ship sails forward...

    Thank you, everyone, for your support, I really appreciate it! At the moment I am looking at where the best place to host the site is (in terms of cost, ease of migrating the forum, etc.), what tools to use for the site's design, and roughly how the design will look like. I will get in touch when this change-over is complete. In the meanwhile, if there are any ideas for new features or new content on top of what is already included on the Discover Zelenka site, then please let me know or simply post your ideas here -- it will be great to work together on implementing them and thus add to Alistair's wonderful work.

    Hello everyone,


    By Royal Decree (of course!):


    I would like to announce that Discover Zelenka has found a new ruler in the magnanimous King Maximilian, Holy Roman Emperor, forever August; King of Germany, of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia; Archduke of Austria; Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Limburg, Luxembourg, Gelderland; Landgrave of Alsace; Prince of Swabia; Count Palatine of Burgundy; Princely Count of Habsburg, Hainaut, Flanders, Tyrol, Gorizia, Artois, Holland, Seeland, Ferrette, Kyburg, Namur, Zutphen; Margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, the Enns, Burgau; Lord of Frisia, the Wendish March, Pordenone, Salins, Mechelen, etc. etc. -- these days also known simply as King Max.


    :D


    Of course, there is inevitably some sadness in such a moment when Discover Zelenka, a fruit of the loving labour of Alistair (and everyone who helped him along the way), is taken over by another person; however, one can also look at this as a renewal which will continue the long-standing efforts and tradition dedicated to spreading the word about the truly magnificent music of Jan Dismas Zelenka.


    My immediate plans are to look into options for re-hosting the forum and the site itself before May next year, and also to determine if a better software platform exists for running the forum. I will also be looking to modernize the design of jdzelenka.net (e.g. making it mobile-friendly). If this sounds a little unsettling, have no fear -- I won't be introducing any new taxes :p -- I want to reassure everyone that I will try to keep to a "Baroque web" aesthetic. As to the content, I will be looking to preserve what is already on the site: about Zelenka's life, his music, recordings, everything really! I certainly appreciate that in many ways the contributing authors of the Discover Zelenka content as a whole are you, members of the Zelenka forum who contribute news, ideas, etc. In this way I hope that together we will continue the work that Alistair started 15 years ago.


    It will take some time for the site's new design to be settled and implemented and for the forum to be transferred. A "preview" version might be available before the middle of next year (when Alistair plans to retire), but I won't make any promises. No reasonably diplomatic king can do that! ;)


    In the meanwhile, if you have any suggestions for the Discover Zelenka site or forum (e.g. any features you would like to see), please let me know by PM. The vBulletin courier will deliver it to me in person in my royal palace. :cool:


    Best wishes to all,
    -- King Max

    You are right, Seb, the image in the video I posted is not the best quality :(. There is a better one here though, in another video of Annael's artworks also on YouTube -- just make sure you go full-screen:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY65FTOalYs


    This video actually uses Zelenka's Miserere ZWV 57 -- another reason for me to post it here -- in a very good performance (I am not sure which version it is: Dombrecht, Hengelbrock?). Music and art complement each other really well there I think! And for me this is also one of Zelenka's most profound works. But, as for the images/video -- while the video itself is impressive, the quality of the images is, unfortunately, not high-definition (1080p HD), so again Annael's green Angel to Zelenka's Missa Dei Patris won't be perfect. Anyway, if a bigger and better hi-res image comes up online, I will write about it here :).


    All the best,
    -- King Max

    Following on from Sebastian/Xanaseb's recent post about the performance of Missa Dei Patris ZWV 19 by Collegium 1704/Luks in another thread, I thought I should post something related, but a little bit different: a link to a YouTube video I like of a painting by Australian artist Annael (Anelia Pavlova), where the painting itself was created to the same music (!):


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhcWbniKMhA


    Alistair already knows about Annael's artworks, she has another painting (I believe another few, actually) created to different works by Zelenka. I personally adore these unique artworks, and given the theme of Missa Dei Patris recently and the festive season now, this can be interpreted as my gift to other Zelenka fans :). I think it's a pity there is only one such Zelenka video for me to share. To be honest though, it actually works better if one sees Annael's angelic painting without the music in YouTube, otherwise it feels like one is trying to "match" things up, but anyway, the video has its own appeal. Enjoy!


    Greetings to all,
    -- King Max

    I must say I staunchly disagree with Osbert. We all know that a vocal performance is not good only because of the "mechanics" or technique of the singing, otherwise even the Zelenka midi files on this site might suffice :). What matters most, to an especial degree in Baroque music, is what the soloist imparts in that singing, the feeling, the expression. Technique counts, of course, and if, say, vibrato is being used excessively *and* artificially it really can ruin things, sure. Take for example the recent recording of Zelenka's I Penitenti al Sepolchro ZWV 63 on ZigZag (Vaclav Luks conducting also), where the talented tenor (Stoklossa) sings in the style of an Italian opera hero, and it doesn't really work. But, this is not the case here.


    I have watched the youtube video of Luks performing Zelenka's ZWV 21 mass, and the soprano (Alena Hellerova) really *is* AMAZING (to quote SineNomine from September/1st). She sings with devotion, clarity, sensitivity and a lot of feeling, which more than makes up for the greater use of vibrato. The alto (Kamila Mazalova) has a unique, subdued voice, that makes a very interesting rendering of her aria. Everyone -- soloists and choir -- sings with immense dedication; the tempos are just right (unlike Adam Viktora's galloping speed); and overall the performance is not only the best I have ever heard of this mass (with all due respect to previous interpretations, including the one by Frieder Bernius), but also revelatory: until now, for me this mass was "OK, not bad", but not great. After having heard this performance, I can say it's a magnificent masterpiece. Where other performances paint a vague sketch of the Himalayas on paper, or a colourful picture, this performance takes you there.


    Every major Baroque ensemble can perform with decent (period) technique, skill and precision. Above this, the way I see it, what Zelenka's music needs is not ice-cold perfection at quick speed, or a large choir with big-name soloists; it needs love and devotion. If one doesn't hear this, then that performance is empty, no matter how perfect otherwise.


    Therefore, I would say: Bravo to Vaclav Luks, ensemble 1704 and all the soloists involved for such an incredible performance that has love and devotion and that recreates the music of Zelenka as he envisioned it! I encourage whoever has any connections to the ensemble and conductor to make a plea for them to record this last, ultimate mass by Zelenka, in their own, "ultimate", performance (with the same soloists, please)!


    Yours
    -- King Max

    My full support for this idea. It was quite recently that I found out about some of Tomas Kral's concert performances on youtube.com, including Zelenka's Confitebor tibi Domine (ZWV 71) -- and they are absolutely fantastic!


    I believe the youtube link was already posted on this forum in early 2011, but for the sake of having most relevant youtube links in the one place, I am including it below as well:


    Zelenka, Confitebor tibi Domine (ZWV 71)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWJClqnJq0M


    J.S. Bach, Ich habe genug (BWV 82)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enc8z2fTXzw (movmt I)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6jeFIebR7g (movmt II)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uruwIvAcxY (movmt III)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9JxWB8R-cs (movmt IV)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47qY9DhboAA (movmt V)


    In both the Zelenka motet (ZWV 71) and the Bach canata (BWV 82) I find Kral's singing to be quite exceptional. I would definitely vote for the same works to be recorded.


    Additional suggestions (no surprises for anyone who has read my previous posts) could be motets by Caldara and/or J.J. Fux.


    About which of the Czech groups to lobby for such a recording: this is a difficult choice, because they have all made wonderful Zelenka/Baroque recordings in the past. Based on the concerts above, I would personally vote for Marek Stryncl (on the Confitebor motet) -- Vaclav Luks takes the tempi a bit fast. As an aside, on more recent performances, Adam Viktora seems to choose more hurried tempi as well, especially in Vivaldi's RV 595, and I think a fast tempo would ruin the Confitebor. The recent Sepolcri CD (a real must-have) by Collegium Marianum under Jana Semeradova was very impressive -- and Tomas Kral was bass soloist there.


    Of course, any such recording will depend on whether the aforementioned groups find our idea interesting and worthwhile ;).

    Yes, I fully agree that one can't assume variety is the reason for Adam Viktora's new recording. I suggested it as just one possibility (i.e. "it could be ..."), but one can only guess. I suppose it could be that Adam Viktora was catching up with mates from England and they asked him "Why not record Ben Britten, Adam, in our honour?" :D -- the reason is not that important, but what I said about variety being good is still true.


    Having said this, I should throw in (hopefully not to confuse any readers) that actually the points of view expressed by Osbert and Honey B are valid as well -- if one doesn't like modern classical music, and is not prepared to give it a go from time to time, and then sees one of their favourite Baroque conductors conduct the music they don't like, they would feel, well, ripped-off and even a bit angry. This is perfectly fair, and is worth considering. From another point of view though, great music was written through all the ages -- even in our century (cf. the Finnish composer Rautavaara's Garden of Spaces written a few years ago) although I admit there it is more rare :( -- and whether one wishes to, or is able to take interest in it is something personal. From this perspective, a conductor has to conduct good music, actually, great music, no matter what epoch, and hence can't cater to everyone's personal taste. If one now takes this perspective, then suddenly it's not possible to feel ripped-off, or angry, or anything else :). The question that remains is: what is the music being conducted? Because, to give a concrete example, Capella Regia under Robert Hugo recently recorded some music by a Czech Baroque composer (Jacob), in an astounding performance, yet one cannot be blamed for thinking: "if only it was Zelenka", because Jacob is, after all considered, not quite the same genius as Zelenka. And at this point I feel I should stop writing, having said enough things for everyone, and leave my previous post to say the rest.


    PS. Please do make a new thread for a Tomas Kral recording, Osbert, I'm sure it will have the support of many Zelenka fans like myself. I don't know whether enough lobbying will get a recording through, but it never hurts to try :).


    Cheers to all,
    -- King Max

    I thought I should add my voice to this debate, taking the "middle path" :).


    It could be that Adam Viktora and ensemble Inegal wanted to give themselves a small break from the Baroque world. This can be good, because variety in music helps everyone appreciate different periods and styles better -- musicians included. It can help avoid "mechanistic" interpretations of the same repertoire ("Oh no, we have to rehearse for yet another Zelenka mass today").


    So, a foray into modern music is not a bad thing. I agree with Alistair that Martinu should receive this (perhaps rare) attention from the Czechs. Martinu wrote some incredibly beautiful vocal madrigals, looking back at the madrigals of the Renaissance, and there is only one long out-of-print recording of them. Even if one is not interested in modern music, those works are approachable and would be worth hearing, they are that good. Then there is the vocal music of Max Reger and Paul Hindemith (think "parallel J.S. Bachs" of a sort). The Bach-inspired motets of Reger are wonderful and underrepresented in the recording catalogue, as are (even more so) Hindemith's mass from 1963 and the Rilke chansons. What about Hindemith's Apparebit repentina dies, or the completely unrecorded Ite Angeli veloces -- these immensely beautiful works need advocates who can perform well in the Renaissance/Baroque style. I only wish Adam Viktora had gone for some of the works above!


    Of course, there are (many) works by Zelenka that still need to be recorded, no one can deny that point. Also there are Zelenka's contemporaries: J.J. Fux and Caldara, whose brilliant masses and motets have received so little attention. I would love to see a recording by the Czech groups of a Fux mass, performed properly. In fact, I would love to see a recording with motets by Zelenka, Fux and Caldara on the same CD -- that would be a real celebration!


    Obviously I have my preferences over Britten and Arvo Part, as everyone can see, and I will stick to ensemble Inegal's Baroque recordings for now, but the shocking new "modernistic" trend in Adam Viktora's output is not, by itself, that bad, I think.


    Finally, I second the idea of a Tomas Kral solo CD! What a great idea.


    (By the way, is anyone reading this post who knows Adam Viktora personally, or any of the other Czech groups? If so, then please, by all means let them know the wishlist and my opinions above - you have my royal blessing for this!)

    Speaking of parallel composers, I felt I should add that if anyone is interested in a "parallel" J.S. Bach, they should try the German composer Max Reger. Besides his Bachian organ music, Reger wrote wonderful chamber music, e.g. some cello suites (3), 7 sonatas for solo violin, string quartets etc., as well as sacred vocal works. When mentioning Reger as a parallel Bach, I should also mention Paul Hindemith, (also German) who was a "spiritual heir" of Reger. Hindemith is more modern and intellectual, but his music is absolutely great. Going further in time, one can find a "parallel" Mozart and Haydn in the face of the 20th century composers Dmitry Shostakovich and Mieczyslaw Weinberg, both of who had a kind of Haydn-Mozart relationship, and both of who were inspired by classical forms. Then further on, there are "parallel" Beethoven and Ries in the 20th century Rachmaninov and Nikolai Medtner, although here the analogs break up a bit, because Medtner was (with all due respect for Ries) a greater composer than his parallel counterpart. In any case, if anyone wants to explore some more late Romantic and/or modern music, broaden their scope of composers or just give some fantastic music a go, then I would highly recommend listening to the composers above!


    I can write out some recommended recordings if anyone wants me to give them.


    -- King Max