COMPOSERS: Jan Dismas Zelenka
ALBUM TITLE: Zelenka
WORKS: Dixit Dominus; Laudate pueri Dominum; Beatus vir; Magnificat; In exitu Israel; Confitebor tibi Domine; De profundis
PERFORMER: Ensemble Inégal, Prague Baroque Soloists/Adam Viktora
CATALOGUE NO: Nibiru 01612231
Jan Dismas Zelenka, a Bohemian contemporary of Bach’s, spent most of his working life at the Dresden court, first as a bass player then as vice-Kapellmeister of church music. His style is often distinctive, seasoned with a piquancy derived from Central European folk tradition. Between 1723 and 1733 Zelenka wrote a good deal of music for Dresden’s Catholic court chapel. Among several Masses, Requiems, antiphons and litanies are some 40 Vespers psalm settings. This disc includes the usual five psalms for Vespers as well as a Magnificat and a revised setting of the psalm De Profundis, all largely composed in the later months of 1725.
The most extended of the seven pieces is the Confitebor tibi Domine (Psalm 111) – this, apparently, its first recording. Much of the solo vocal writing both in this work and elsewhere has a bravura element, and some of the harmonically rich chorales such as the ‘Peccator videbit’ of the Confitebor are hardly less demanding. Most of the solo contributions are technically secure, but the choral texture is variable, with a few weak moments in the single movement Laudate pueri Dominum. Elsewhere, though, the lively and sympathetic accounts give much pleasure with responsive instrumental support of varying colours, textures and size.