MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing


Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
František Ignác Antonín TŮMA (1704-1774)
Stabat mater in g minor [17:00]
Johann Georg ORSCHLER (1698-1767/70)
Sonata for two violins and bc in F [15:21]
Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745)
Sub tuum praesidium in g minor (ZWV 157,1) [2:56]
Sanctus et Agnus Dei in d minor (ZWV 36) [5:09]
Sub tuum praesidium in c minor (ZWV 157,2) [5:10]
Sanctus et Agnus Dei ex Missa Nigra sum a 4 in g minor (ZWV 34) [5:55]
Sub tuum praesidium in d minor (ZWV 157,3) [3:16]
Collegium Vocale 1704, Collegium 1704/Václav Luks
rec. 8-10 November, 3 December 2013, Domovina Studio, Prague, Czech Republic. DDD
Texts and translations included
Music from eighteenth-century Prague series
SUPRAPHON SU4160-2 [56:01]

One of the features of the stile nuovo which emerged in the early 17th century in Italy was the extended role of single voices or instruments. Composers started to write music for a solo voice or instrument, often of a quite virtuosic character. However, the stile antico which was dominant in the previous centuries was still frequently applied, especially in sacred music. One of the advocates of that style in the late 17th and early 18th centuries was Johann Joseph Fux (c.1660-1741). He exerted a strong influence through his treatise Gradus ad Parnassum as well as directly through his teaching. The present disc is devoted to music by three composers from Bohemia all of whom were his pupils.

The programme begins with a setting of the Stabat mater by František Ignác Antonín Tůma. He was born in Kostelec where his father worked as organist and was also his first teacher. He probably studied in Prague with Cernohorsky and then went to Vienna. By 1731 he was in the service of Count Franz Ferdinand Kinsky, the High Chancellor of Bohemia, who allowed him to study counterpoint with Fux. When Kinsky died in 1741 Tůma was appointed Kapellmeister to the widow of Emperor Charles VI. According to Count Kinsky Tůma was a follower of Fux's principles, meaning that his sacred music is written in the stile antico and shows reminiscences of Palestrina. The Stabat mater is a particularly good example. It is scored for four voices and basso continuo, and has some similarity with Domenico Scarlatti's setting of the same text for ten voices and b.c. The influence of Palestrina is evident, but - as so often with sacred music of that time - it also includes traces of the concertante style and even elements which point in the direction of the classical style of the late 18th century. There are many moments when the text is illustrated, for instance on words like "tormentis" and "flagellatis subditum". It is a wonderful and very expressive setting of this famous text and receives a performance of great beauty and incisiveness. The voices blend perfectly and every nuance in the text is clearly exposed.

The second main composer on the programme is much better known. Jan Dismas Zelenka is best known for his masses. Most of these are available in several recordings which bear witness to the popularity of his music. Zelenka was quite adventurous: much of his oeuvre is unconventional, for instance in the use of harmony. In his later works he included elements of the modern galant idiom as he came under increasing criticism for his conservative style. Counterpoint plays an important part in his compositions, and it comes as no surprise that Bach was among his admirers. The mass sections recorded here are rather curious as both are partly based on music by Palestrina, the great model of the stile antico which figured prominently in Fux's teachings. In the Agnus Dei from the Sanctus et Agnus Dei in d minor Zelenka makes use of two sections from Palestrina's Missa sine nomine. The court chapel in Dresden, where Zelenka worked most of his life, owned a copy of Palestrina's Missa Nigra sum but only the Kyrie, Gloria and Credo. Zelenka composed the missing parts himself. Whereas most of the music is his own, albeit in Palestrina style, the Agnus Dei II is a parody of the Kyrie II of Palestrina's mass. These pieces are also interesting as they allow a comparison between Palestrina and 'pseudo-Palestrina'. I wonder whether a listener who doesn't know that parts of this work are from Zelenka's pen would hear any difference.

The three settings of the text Sub tuum praesidium are from a set of ten. They are quite different: the setting in d minor is dominated by homophony, but ends with a fugue. The second in c minor is more polyphonic, and begins and ends with a fugue. In this setting Zelenka makes frequent use of general pauses. These pieces were written for the Roman-Catholic liturgy and bear witness to the influence of Marie Josepha of Austria, daughter of the Habsburg emperor Joseph I, who married August III, future Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.

The third composer in the programme is hardly known at all. Johann Georg Orschler was born in Breslau in Silesia - today Wrocław in Poland. He was in Prague in the late 1720s, having studied with Johann Joseph Fux in Vienna. This sonata is one of two which are preserved in the archive of the court orchestra in Dresden. This is an indication that he was held in high esteem.

This is a most intriguing disc. It was a great idea to focus on one specific aspect in the oeuvre of three composers, two of which are little known or hardly known at all. Certainly the Tuma catalogue which is of considerable size deserves to be thoroughly explored. It would be great if Václav Luks would take care of that because he delivers exquisite performances here with his fine ensemble of singers and players. This is definitely one of the best discs I have heard lately, and the nomination as Recording of the Month is fully deserved.

Johan van Veen