Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
GRAMOPHONE (06/2011)
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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: David Vickers

Zelenka’s Requiem is revealed as a colourful and dramatic masterpiece

This presents all of the magnificent music by Jan Dismas Zelenka for the prolonged funeral exequies of Augustus the Strong that took place at the Dresden court’s Roman Catholic chapel from April 15, 1733, for four entire days. Václav Luks directs the Officium defunctorum with ample dramatic energy; Collegium 1704’s players and choir perform with lyricism and precision. The extraordinary invitatory sequence has some astonishing dramatic gestures in its orchestral ritornellos, and alto Markéta Cukrov and the excellent choir interleave fluently. This and the first three lessons have already been recorded superbly by the King’s Consort (Hyperion, 9/03) but, notwithstanding the plangent quality and beguiling soloists of Robert King’s selections, Luks presents a reconstructed edition of the entire work including all nine lessons and also all of the responses (including some Gregorian chant), featuring idiosyncratic switches between archaic and modem styles. Zelenka’s lavish D major Requiem written for the 1733 exequies has attractive characteristics of music created for the Dresden Hofkapelle during this period, such as a finely crafted juxtaposition of expressive writing for solo voices and contrapuntal choral splendour, and striking instrumental colours (pairs of trumpets, horns, flutes, oboes, bassoons and a chalumeau are all used to telling effect). Collegium 1704’s horns, trumpets and flutes create charming textures in the opening and closing parts of the celebratory Kyrie, which flank Hana Blažiková’s graceful singing in “Christe eleison”. Zelenka’s dramatic word-painting during the Sequentia is brilliantly conveyed: tremulous strings in “Quantus tremor” followed seconds later by regal trumpets in “Tuba mirum”; “Recordare” is a softly plangent duet in which Markéta Cukrov and Sébastian Monti are accompanied poetically by Christian Leitherer’s chalumeau obbligato; “Lacrimosa” is a mournful yet consoling choral fugue. Collegium 1704 proceeds to realise particularly special sonorities in “Domine, Jesu Christe”: a pair of bassoons illustrate the fall into darkness, whereas the holy light that follows is accompanied by a pair of flutes. A fabulous masterpiece is unveiled.


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