“Zelenka was one of Bach’s and Telemann’s most musically colourful contemporaries.” (Gramophone)
Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745) is one of the most enigmatic figures in the history of Baroque music. Very little is known of his early years, where he studied and who taught him. Born in a village to the south of Prague, he later travelled to Dresden where he joined the court of the Elector of Saxony, Friedrich August I. His position at the court was a lowly one, but he nonetheless composed many works there and his output of church music was particularly prolific.
Zelenka was an astonishingly original and forward-looking composer, and his late Masses such as the Missa Dei Patris are a real departure from what we might see as ‘typical’ Baroque choral music, showing the influence of Italian opera and elements of the emerging style galant. Written for small forces but nevertheless conceived on a large scale, the Missa Dei Patris is full of beautiful melodies and profoundly expressive choral writing, and characterised by a unique blend of melancholy and ecstatic fervour. The second disc in this set includes three of Zelenka’s virtuosic and formally innovative Capriccios, and two of the Psalm settings that he composed for Vesper services at the Dresden court.
The works are heard here in definitive performances featuring renowned singers such as René Jacobs, Peter Schreier and Olaf Bär and the Virtuosi Saxoniae – an ensemble comprising some of the finest musicians from the Dresden Staatskapelle – under the baton of their founder, Ludwig Güttler.
- Recorded between 1986 and 1994 at the Lukaskirche in Dresden.
- The works of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) are gaining rapidly in public recognition and admiration. His works, especially his later choral compositions, are so startlingly original, personal and full of emotional expression, that he is sometimes called The Bohemian Bach.
- This 2-CD set contains three large-scale sacred works and three Capriccios, instrumental suites of great virtuosity and brilliance.
- Beautiful performances by the early music band Virtuosi Saxoniae conducted by Ludwig Güttler, and famous soloists René Jacobs, Olaf Bär and Peter Schreier.
- Contains booklet notes and sung texts with English translations.