Zelenka: The Lamentations of Jeremiah

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LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: The Lamentations of Jeremiah
PERFORMER: Michael Chance (countertenor), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Michael George (bass); Chandos Baroque Players
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55106 Reissue (1990)
Bach’s Bohemian contemporary Zelenka worked for most of his life at the musically progressive Dresden court for whose Catholic chapel these settings of texts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah may have been intended. They date from 1722 and, like so much else by this stylistically individual composer, contain music of beauty and well-sustained harmonic interest. Two, rather than the customary three, Lamentations for each of the last three days of Holy Week are known, and these are shared between alto, tenor and bass vocal ranges. These soloists are on their accustomed strong form, shading the music with sensitivity and evenness of tone. But the warmly coloured and gently inflected support provided by the Chandos Baroque Players deserves equal praise. Nicholas Anderson