Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745)
Requiem in c, ZWV 48

Brigitte Fournier (soprano), Brigitte Balleys (contralto), Kenzo Ishii (tenor), Niklaus Tüller (bass),
Berner Kammerchor
Berner Kammerorchester/Jörg Ewald Dähler
Recorded September 1984, Berner Münster
CLAVES CD 50-8501 [47’ 44"]
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The restrained dignity of the Requiem in c minor (there is another in D major) by the somewhat isolated figure of Jan Dismas Zelenka, a Bohemian who spent most of his composing life in Dresden, seems to inhabit a private world far removed from the monumental elaboration of J. S. Bach, who admired him, as well as from the dramatic force of Handel or the rich exuberance of such Italian contemporaries as Vivaldi. While rooted in baroque practices its simplicity seems to look forward to the classical era and I think that, if listening blind, I would have judged it to be a little later than the three composers I have mentioned.

Unperformed until the present forces presented it on Good Friday 1984, the original LP came out amidst claims that this was a Requiem that would work its way into the repertoire alongside the more famous examples already present. That this has not happened seems to be the fault of neither the music, which often rises to such expressive heights as can be judged from the opening of the Agnus Dei (example 1, track 16 from the beginning), nor of the performance, which is impressively dedicated without lapsing into false pleading. Zelenka’s instrumentation is often imaginative, as in the case of the "Lux aeterna" (example 2, track 17 from the beginning) where the strings waft gently high above the bass soloist, but he deliberately avoids any sort of pictorial illustration. The trombones are impressively used in the Kyrie and even more so in the "Lacrimosa", whereas in "Tuba mirum" any suggestions of the last trump are set aside in favour of a lyrical, reflective aria for soprano solo (example 3, track 9 from the beginning).

The soprano is perhaps the best of the soloists but the contralto is very good too. The two male soloists sing well but they seem (and the photo in the booklet bears this out) to have rather young voices which had not yet attained the vocal weight which maturity would bring. This did not affect my appreciation of the music; you can judge from example 2 whether it is likely to affect yours.

The recording is transferred at a rather low level; even with the volume increased it has just very slightly less presence and body than the original LP, so if you have that and haven’t worn it out you might as well stay with it. Without the LP for comparison you should find the CD more than satisfactory.

I suppose that under 50 minutes is rather short for a CD and alternative recordings – on Passacaille 9528 under Paul Dombrecht and a Czech Panton CD about which I have no information – contain other items. But given the general excellence of the present issue I suggest you don’t give too much importance to this aspect. Certainly the work is worth knowing and it would be nice to think that this and other recordings will encourage choirmasters to take it up.

Christopher Howell

 

 


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CDTnº1 - J. ZELENKA
Introitus
CDTnº2 - J. ZELENKA
Introitus
CDTnº3 - J. ZELENKA
Introitus
CDTnº4 - J. ZELENKA
Kyrie
CDTnº5 - J. ZELENKA
Kyrie
CDTnº6 - J. ZELENKA
Kyrie
CDTnº7 - J. ZELENKA
Dies Irae
CDTnº8 - J. ZELENKA
Dies Irae
CDTnº9 - J. ZELENKA
Dies Irae
CDTnº10 - J. ZELENKA
Dies Irae
CDTnº11 - J. ZELENKA
Dies Irae
CDTnº12 - J. ZELENKA
Dies Irae
CDTnº13 - J. ZELENKA
Sanctus
CDTnº14 - J. ZELENKA
Sanctus
CDTnº15 - J. ZELENKA
Sanctus
CDTnº16 - J. ZELENKA
Agnus Dei
CDTnº17 - J. ZELENKA
Communio
CDTnº18 - J. ZELENKA
Communio




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