Jan Dismas Zelenka: Sonatas

Jan Dismas Zelenka: Sonatas

by Ensemble Marsyas
     
 
Czech Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka was a near contemporary of Bach, who admired him (and not too many other composers). The pieces on this album, which unite intense technical and contrapuntal virtuosity with lightness of spirit, make it easy to see why. They were roughly contemporaneous with Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos," and may have

Overview

Czech Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka was a near contemporary of Bach, who admired him (and not too many other composers). The pieces on this album, which unite intense technical and contrapuntal virtuosity with lightness of spirit, make it easy to see why. They were roughly contemporaneous with Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos," and may have been written for similar purposes (as a kind of audition). These pieces are what were called quadri or quadro sonate ("quartet sonatas," to be distinguished from the earlier sonata a quattro). They are for two oboes, bassoon, and continuo, or in one case oboe, violin, bassoon, and continuo. The oboe and bassoon are not easy instruments to play; the Baroque oboe and bassoon are harder still; and to play difficult lines in intricate ensemble work on these instruments is nothing short of miraculous. Yet that is what happens in this reading of three of the sonatas plus an excerpt from one larger work that better exemplifies Zelenka's tendency toward the bizarre. The three sonatas, for all their difficulty, are graceful pieces, and Scotland's Ensemble Marsyas carries them off with enviable smoothness and even quietness. It's an extraordinary performance, and the sweet pastoral sounds of Peter Whelan's Baroque bassoon will be worth the price of admission by themselves for many listeners. The Linn label contributes strongly as well with fine engineering, scaled to the intimate conception of the music but not sitting right on top of the players and picking up the clicking of keys and the like. There are a few other recordings of these pieces (Heinz Holliger popularized them), but this is an excellent choice for first exposure to the still-underrated Zelenka as well as for those already hooked.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/30/2012
Label:
Linn Records
UPC:
0691062041522
catalogNumber:
415
Rank:
215713

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Simphonie à 8 Concertanti for 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 violins, viola, cello & continuo in A minor, ZWV 189: Andante  - Jan Dismas Zelenka  - Monica Huggett  -  Ensemble Marsyas
  2. Trio Sonata for 2 oboes, bassoon & continuo No. 6 in C minor, ZWV 181/6  - Jan Dismas Zelenka  - Monica Huggett  -  Ensemble Marsyas
  3. Trio Sonata for oboe, violin, bassoon & continuo No. 3 in B flat major, ZWV 181/3  - Jan Dismas Zelenka  - Monica Huggett  -  Ensemble Marsyas
  4. Trio Sonata for 2 oboes, bassoon & continuo No. 5 in F major, ZWV 181/5  - Jan Dismas Zelenka  - Monica Huggett  -  Ensemble Marsyas

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