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Fanfare Magazine: 43:4 (03-04/2020) 
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Reviewer: David Reznick

Here we have Psalms that were not included in the 33 settings that made up the three cycles of Vespers Psalms performed in the first two of this three-volume series. That is the only thing different about them; they are interchangeable with the others and performed with the same personnel—and composed with the same level of inspiration. This group seems to have more opportunities for the vocal soloists, and they acquit themselves handsomely, especially tenor Tobias Hunger, whose light touch and flexibility, not to mention his apparently endless air supply, allow him to skim blithely over the fioratura which makes up so much of Zelenka’s lengthy phrases.

Of course, this music was never meant to be listened to at one sitting; on the contrary, it was meant to provide for three years’ worth of Vespers services. But as I sat down to start volume one, I was quickly captivated. I had previously heard only a bit of chamber music by Zelenka, and I was really not familiar with him. I ended up listening to the whole record, twice. That was last night. This morning I listened to volumes 2 and 3, straight through. It was enough to make me wonder how many churches in how many provincial towns and cities have unknown masterpieces in their attics, waiting to be resurrected. When I was in high school no one ever heard of Schutz, Cavalli, Grandi, Cozzolani, Buxtehude—but they have served their time in musical limbo and are now restored to us.

Certainly I can’t be the only one who forms an instant bond with Jan Dismas Zelenka upon first hearing his music. But if you have any love for sacred choral music, I urge you to acquire these recordings. And if they suddenly become standard repertoire, covered by competing versions from all over Europe and the U.S., I’m confident that they’ll never be performed any better than these discs from Nibiru. As for me, from here on I will think of the first half of the 18th century as the era of Bach, Handel, and Zelenka.


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