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Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745)
Missa 1724
Collegium 1704, Collegium Vocale 1704/Václav Luks
rec. 2018, Church of St Anne, Prague
Texts and translations included
ACCENT ACC24363 [54:28]

Despite the confident appellation ‘Missa 1724’ this is, in effect, a kind of parody mass with its movements sourced from diverse works. Václav Luks reinforces the point in his booklet notes, acknowledging that the movements are not related to each other but that it’s an opportunity to bring this part of Zelenka’s music to public recognition.

It’s not as if Luks has not devoted energy and commitment to Zelenka’s cause on Accent; there have been a number of acclaimed recordings by the conductor and his Collegium 1704 forces. And the focus here is more choral than soloistic, in addition to the pastiche nature of the undertaking which might, superficially at least, make this seem a less pressing purchase for lovers of composer and ensemble. Better, perhaps, to see the constructed work as a plausible enough example of Zelenka’s art around the years 1723-24.

Despite the disparate nature of the individual movements each has a strong sense of character of its own. Yes, the Christe eleison of the Kyrie may be a paraphrase of a pre-existing Miserere, ZWV56 of 1722 but it generates a propulsive rhythm nonetheless in this new context, whilst the Kyrie eleison II turns out to be another paraphrase couched in the form of a dramatic chromatic double fugue. The opening of the Gloria derives from a considerably earlier setting, almost Vivaldian in its sprung rhythms, and the succeeding Laudamus te sports an elegant solo, with good divisions, from tenor Václav Čížek where the organ is discreetly but well balanced.

The Credo is one of the outstanding movements in this edifice, a grand orchestral concerto style affair with a brief but refined Crucifixus whereas the Benedictus is ‘in the style’ of Pisani, deriving from his Dresden Mass setting of the 1730s and therefore not quite contemporary with material sourced from earlier in Zelenka’s career. Still, there’s a splendid eight-part Dona nobis pacem to end this ‘imaginary mass’.

To finish the disc there is the Salve Regina, itself a parody of Frescobaldi, but eloquently performed and sung.

Splendidly recorded, the ensemble, its choir and conductor have Zelenka in their bloodstream by now and one should welcome this ‘new’ composition even if one considers it lower on one’s list of priorities than the genuine masses.

Jonathan Woolf
Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, ZWV 26
Gloria, ZWV 30, Credo, ZWV 32, Salve Regina, ZWV 137

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