Zelenka: Trio Sonatas, ZWV 181/4, 5, 6

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Zelenka
LABELS: Matous
WORKS: Trio Sonatas, ZWV 181/4, 5, 6
PERFORMER: Jana Brozová, Vojtech Jouza (oboe), Jarouslav Kubita (bassoon), Václav Hoskovec (bass), Frantisek Xaver Thuri (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: MK 0009-2
It’s been nearly 30 years since Heinz Holliger’s premiere recording of Zelenka’s highly individual trio sonatas for two oboes, bassoon and basso continuo rescued a Baroque master from centuries of silence. Yet, unlike near-contemporaries such as Bach and Vivaldi, Zelenka has remained a shadowy figure, with little of his music available on CD. This neglect seems inexplicable, given that the trio sonatas are such attractive pieces, the fast movements flowing and vivacious, the slow movements all lilting tenderness, the whole brilliantly structured and full of original touches.

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Holliger has recently re-recorded the sonatas for ECM to great acclaim, but this disc on the Czech Studio Matous label (recorded in 1993 but only now issued in the UK by Koch International) also offers much to enjoy. The ECM set has far superior documentation and some exhilarating performances, but the Czech group’s measured approach finds a sober, expansive beauty in the Adagios and Andantes that Holliger’s fleeter tempos don’t always capture. Both versions can be commended, though my preferred recording remains that by Ensemble Zefiro (Auvidis Astrée), whose period instruments add an extra degree of colour and character to Zelenka’s delightful musical sorcery. Graham Lock