Zelenka: Litaniae de venerabili sacramento; Lectiones & Invitatorium from Officium defunctorum; Salve regina, Z135; Regina coeli, Z134

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COMPOSERS: Zelenka
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Litaniae de venerabili sacramento; Lectiones & Invitatorium from Officium defunctorum; Salve regina, Z135; Regina coeli, Z134
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson, Rebecca Outram (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), James Gilchrist (tenor), Michael George, Peter Harvey (bass); Choir of The King’s Consort, The King’s Consort/Robert King
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67350
Robert King and his King’s Consort continue their excellent series of sacred music by Bach’s German contemporaries with a handful of pieces by one of the most distinctively individual of them all. Zelenka spent most of his working life in Dresden where he became vice-Kapellmeister of its musically enlightened court. His declamatory style is very much his own and is frequently coloured by affective word-painting and by animated, sometimes extensive passagework. King has chosen pieces which, as far as I know, have not been previously recorded. Apart from some Marian antiphons, the two most substantial works are the Litaniae de venerabili sacramento, with its 11 well-contrasted sections for soloists, choir, two oboes, strings and continuo, and the more elaborately scored Officium defunctorum, sung at the funeral of Augustus the Strong in 1733. Only two of its three sections are included here, but they make enormous impact, on account both of the music’s delicate instrumental colouring and its sustained elegiac lyricism. Indeed, the three Lessons and the Invitatorium are comfortably the high water mark of a mainly satisfying programme. Performances are sensitive and stylish in ways that we have come to expect from this group. Nicholas Anderson

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