Bretner: Concertos, Op. 4

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Brentner
LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Concertos, Op. 4 (Horae pomeridianae); Harmonia duodecatometria ecclesiastica, Op. 1 – Arias; plus encore Brixi: Graduale, Pro Dominica Quinquagesimae, ‘Tu es Deus’
PERFORMER: Hana Blaziková (soprano); Collegium Marianum/Jana Semerádová
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3970-2

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Brentner’s rising reputation in the last decade has turned him from a mere name in an encyclopaedia into one of the most vibrant musical personalities of early 18th-century Prague. Unlike a number of his colleagues who looked for fame and fortune abroad, he opted to stay in Bohemia and seems to have made a reasonable living working for various religious orders.

He was also one of the most published Czech composers of the day and, via Jesuit missionaries, his music spread as far South America. This selection of arias and concertos, including a complete recording of his Op. 4, was composed in 1716 and 1720 respectively. While the influence of Vivaldi is certainly evident, Brentner has a distinctive melodic personality and an admirable control of texture.
 

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All of the music in this well-recorded collection is beautifully performed, but there is overall a slightly reverential air. While this seems appropriate in the liturgically-orientated arias, it makes for slightly dull listening in some of the concertos. The players are capable of more vigour, as the spirited performance of an endpiece by Šimon Brixi shows, and in the slower music they are captivating, but a bit more brio elsewhere would have served Brentner better. Jan Smaczny