Zelenka/Pisendel

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Zelenka/Pisendel
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Hipocondrie; Concerto in G; Simphonie in A minor
PERFORMER: Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/ Gottfried von der Goltz
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77339 2 DDD
It was a good idea to combine works by these two composers of the Vivaldi period who both worked in Dresden; the resulting CD is of high quality musically and also from the scholarly viewpoint. Of the two, Jan Dismas Zelenka is the more quirky and unpredictable. Born in Bohemia in 1679, he studied with the Jesuits in Prague and in 1710 became double-bass player in the orchestra of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland at Dresden. In 1715-16 he was in Vienna and studied with JJ Fux, the great contrapuntalist. He returned to Dresden in 1719 and some years thereafter began to write church music for the Catholic court. He died in Dresden in December 1745 aged 66.

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The instrumental works on this disc include a Concerto, a ‘Simphonie’ and a piece entitled Hipocondrie – all three of which are scored for oboes, bassoon and strings in various combinations. They are all amusing and intriguing.

Johann Georg Pisendel (1687-1755) was a violin virtuoso and joined the Dresden orchestra in 1712, remaining there until his death. In 1730 he became the orchestra’s leader. In 1716-17 he undertook a study trip to Venice, where he befriended Vivaldi, ordering his music for the Dresden court. The music on this CD includes Pisendel’s Violin Concerto in D with virtuoso parts for the French horn in the opening movement, and a Sonata in C minor for oboes, strings and continuo.

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The performances by the Freiburg orchestra on period instruments are very fine and the recording excellent. Lovers of the Baroque should investigate this disc, on which much scholarly and musical effort has been expended. HC Robbins Landon