Zelenka: Capriccio No. 2 in G; Capriccio No. 3 in F; Hipocondrie à 7 concertanti in A; Concerto à 8 concertanti in G

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COMPOSERS: Zelenka
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Capriccio No. 2 in G; Capriccio No. 3 in F; Hipocondrie à 7 concertanti in A; Concerto à 8 concertanti in G
PERFORMER: Das Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre/Jürgen Sonnentheil
CATALOGUE NO: 999 458-2
When the highly individual music of Jan Dismas Zelenka began to be revived in quantity in the Seventies and Eighties, it was mostly on modern instruments. This was partly because research into Zelenka centred on Prague, where he studied, and Dresden, where he spent most of his career, and these two cities were not then centres of period performance; and partly because his writing for wind instruments was so exceptionally difficult. But these days, period performers have the competence to match Zelenka’s demands, and the North German ‘Newly Opened Orchestra’ (named after an 18th-century treatise) has embarked on a series of his complete orchestral music. However, this first disc, of music from the period 1718-23, is a little disappointing. The use of three oboes on each orchestral part means that the small violin sections are swamped and the textures become clotted; and the playing of the solo parts – with the honourable exceptional of the spectacularly high horns in the two Capriccios – seems tinged with caution, and lacking in flair. The music is still fascinating, especially the Concerto, which shuffles the pack of its soloists – oboe, violin, bassoon, cello – so irregularly that the usual momentum of the Baroque concerto is completely dissipated. But Zelenka is odder than these performances suggest. Anthony Burton

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