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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 25, 2016 | Accent

Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice

Chamber Music - Released May 26, 2017 | Accent

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The six sonatas by Jan Dismas Zelenka ZWV 181 are among the most noteworthy pieces of chamber music of their day and are some the most difficult works in the Baroque oboe and bassoon repertoire, while also being key works of Zelenka’s musical legacy. Nowadays, Zelenka, a Czech composer who spent most of his life in Dresden, no longer needs much introduction because he finally has a firmly established place among the greatest composers of the first half of the eighteenth century. That, however, has not always been the case. His nearly forgotten music did not attract wider attention until the latter half of the twentieth century, and it was these sonatas that played an important role in this. In Zelenka’s day, collections of trio sonatas were a traditional form of presentation of a certain maturity of compositional artistry, and as a matter of fact the composer was here entering the fourth decade of his life – recent musicological research has placed their composition around the years 1721 and 1722. His sonatas likewise are not early works dependent on models. Five of the six sonatas have a four-movement layout and other external features of a sonata da chiesa in the Corelli manner, but the Fifth Sonata has a three-movement structure, quick movements in ritornello form, and other features directly alluding to Antonio Vivaldi’s chamber concertos or to the special sonata of the “auf Concertenart” type. In the application of four- part writing “con due bassi obligati”, manifesting itself in the more or less independent bassoon part or in the abundant use of counterpoint, the sonatas are exceptionally long, so they make great demands on the technical skill and endurance of the players. Zelenka’s writing, however, takes the chosen instruments into consideration by employing suitable keys, keeping in mind the need for places to breathe, etc. Another striking feature is the enormous intensity of expression. Although the composer makes plentiful use of sophisticated contrapuntal techniques and forms for the construction of broadly striding themes and for the combination of the individual voices, this “learnedness” is never at the expense of musical spontaneity. The Czech early music ensemble Collegium 1704, founded 1991 by harpsichordist and horn player Václav Luks (was formerly horn soloist of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, an excellent school for historically informed performance) plays on period instruments, as may be expected. © SM/Qobuz