Notes & Reviews:
Written in 1739, this mass is one of Zelenka's most impressive and intellectually profound late works. Zekenka's masses are written in "mixed church style," meaning he alternated between traditional writing and the more modern taste of his time that was coming into vogue.
All Music Guide - James Manheim
Each new recording of works by Czech Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka seems to unveil new wonders. The choral music from the end of his career, much of it (including this mass) written with no specific commission in a spirit of thanksgiving following his recovery from a serious illness, is especially impressive. Zelenka, like Vivaldi, stayed up to date on the latest stylistic trends in his old age, and he developed a fusion of operatic language and traditional polyphony that seems, more and more clearly, to be the equal of anything by Vivaldi (whose work he might well have known) or Bach (a personal friend who admired Zelenka's music).
The Missa votiva, BWV 18, dating from 1739 and composed in the major operatic center of Dresden, is a substantial work, clocking in at almost 70 minutes. A gorgeous aria given to the alto soloist at the words "Et incarnatus est" is quite somber, but most of the other arias in the large major-key sections of the mass are bright and celebratory, with a clear influence from the new galant style. The most striking passages come in the Credo, where the contrast between polyphonic formality and operatic expression intensifies.
The Crucifixus, exceptionally, is set fugally, with the expected appearance of the major key, with trumpets, at the Resurrexit, which then follows the text very closely, pausing at the word "mortuos" and returning to polyphony for the final "Cum sancto spiritu," complete with its own slow introduction. There are many other beautiful expressive details, all taking their places within the expertly handled polyphony, and the cumulative effect is very powerful. Four rather unsung but superb soloists, along with the Stuttgart Chamber Choir and Stuttgart Baroque Orchestra under veteran German conductor Frieder Bernius, capture both the complexity and the warmth of the music, and the Stuttgart label Carus gets wonderful results on its home ground at the Lutheran Church of Reutlingen-Gönningen. A triumphant outing that is going to help rewrite the history books. Booklet notes are in German, English, and French.
Recording information: Evangelische Kirche Reutlingen-Gönningen (07/07/2008-07/09/2008).
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Works DetailsZelenka, Jan D. : Missa Votiva for soloists, chorus, instruments & continuo in E minor, ZWV 18
- Conductor: Frieder Bernius
- Notes: Evangelische Kirche Reutlingen-Gönningen (07/07/2008-07/09/2008)
- Running Time: 3 min. 56 sec.
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Choral
- Written: 1739