Dominy Clements has already reviewed this recording - here
- and it has also received high praise in other quarters, so
I can be quite brief.
The only instrumental music by Zelenka that I’d encountered
previously to this recording comes on an elderly Teldec CD from
the Concentus Musicus Wien and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, now on
2564697648. The best known music on that CD is the oddly named
Hipondrie - yes, it does mean hypochondria, but no-one
seems to know why it’s so called - and it’s the
name that has probably maintained that work in the repertoire,
together, perhaps, with the fact that apart from Zemlinsky the
composer is just about the last in alphabetical order.
That doesn’t mean that the music is not worth hearing
- far from it; though it’s good second-rate rather than
The Harnoncourt recording contains an account of the Sonata
in g minor, ZWV181/2 for two oboes, bassoon and continuo, so
it’s complementary to the new Linn which contains three
other sonatas from that series. These works are witty, enjoyable,
enterprising and challenging and they receive performances here
at least as good as from Concentus Musicus, with the same blend
of scholarship (pitch = 415Hz and Silbermann II temperament)
and musicality that the older recording displays, together with
the fruits of more modern scholarship.
Indeed, having been recorded at the York Early Music Festival,
they seem to have captured some of the magic which surrounds
that event. I hadn’t encountered Ensemble Marsyas before.
Their namesake challenged Apollo to a musical contest, which
is pretty apt as an indication of the high calibre of their
playing, but I hope that they don’t share his fate of
being flayed alive for his impertinence - not for nothing does
Apollo’s name derive from the Greek verb to destroy.
With excellent recording - I’ve listened to both the SACD
and 24/96 download - and a booklet of notes that wouldn’t
shame even Hyperion, I have only one grumble. I refrained from
complaining about the short playing time on the second CD when
I reviewed the Accent recording of Zelenka’s funeral music
(see below) on the grounds that any fill-up would have seemed
irrelevant, but that doesn’t prevent my pointing out that
50 minutes on the new Linn recording is very short value when
we could have been given more of the sonatas from ZWV181.
For those seeking more Zelenka, Hyperion have two very worthwhile
recordings of his sacred music:
- Lamentations (CDH55106) - see March 2010 Roundup
- Litaniæ de venerabili altaris sacramento, etc.
(CDH55424) - see January 2012/1 Roundup
and there’s the Offficium defunctorum and Requiem
on Accent (ACC24244) - also January 2012/1 Roundup.
Dominy Clements compared the new Linn recordings with those
on a complete set on Accent ACC30048 and preferred the Marsyas
Ensemble. I haven’t yet heard the Accent recordings but
I hope to visit them for a future Download News - you can try
them for yourself if you have access to the Naxos Music Library.
I doubt if they offer much if any improvement over the performances
and recording on the Linn release. This is good second-rate
music made to sound almost first-rate by these performances.
We should also recall that short playing time but even the Accent
set is not over-generous, with 111 minutes spread over two discs.
see also review by Dominy