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DNI 152

DNI173   [8595066601732]   released 02/2023

Missa Charitatis ZWV10
Litanie Xaverianae ZWV154

Ensemble Inégal directed by Adam Viktora
Gabriela Eibenová: soprano, Jonathan Mayenschein: alto, Tobias Hunger: tenor, Martin Schicketanz: bass, Wolf Matthias Friedrich: bass (10,24), Jiří Miroslav Procházka: bass (24)

play all Missa Charitatis 55:28
Missa Charitatis Kyrie 5:32
Missa Charitatis Gloria 2:08
Missa Charitatis Domine Deus 2:57
Missa Charitatis Qui tollis 1:35
Missa Charitatis Quoniam tu solus 2:04
Missa Charitatis Cum Sancto Spiritu 2:14
Missa Charitatis Credo 1:41
Missa Charitatis Et incarnatus 0:59
Missa Charitatis Crucifixus 1:35
Missa Charitatis Et resurrexit 1:50
Missa Charitatis Et in Spiritum Sanctum 3:19
Missa Charitatis Sanctus Dominus 1:41
Missa Charitatis Benedictus 2:33
Missa Charitatis Osanna in excelsis 0:24
Missa Charitatis Agnus Dei 1:12
Missa Charitatis Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi. 0:30
Missa Charitatis Dona nobis pacem 2:17
Litaniae Xaverianae Kyrie eleison 3:51

DNI 152

The 1820s were the period of great rise of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745), which is evidenced by the number of high-quality compositions that he created for various occasions. While for many of these works we know well the circumstances of their creation and release, this recording captures two compositions about which we have very little information today.

     Missa Charitatis, ZWV 10, belongs to the works whose creation falls into the period of Zelenka's extraordinary creative boom in the 1820s and early 1830s. At that time, Zelenka frequently performed the duties of court bandleader instead of the ill Johann David Heinichen (1683–1729). Missa Charitatis was probably written in 1727 and its name refers to God's love and mercy. As it is typical for Zelenka's compositions from this period, we find rich instrumentation in this mass. Besides the vocal parts of the soloists, choir and string instruments, Zelenka added three groups of wind instruments here. There is the usual part of two oboes, but then in the Domine Deus, he added one more oboe to create a trio. There are also two horns with technically extremely demanding concert parts. In this context, it is important to point out that the horn players in the Dresden court band were also musicians from Bohemia. A significant change in character and timbre at the end of the mass is brought by the Benedictus, which is conceived as a dialogue between a solo soprano and an alto against two transverse flutes with a simple basso continuo accompaniment. The demanding counterpoint and technically exposed parts of vocalists and instrumentalists are proof of the very high level of the Dresden court band, whose possibilities Zelenka did not hesitate to fully utilize.

     Litanie Xaverianae, ZWV 154, are intended for the feast of St. František Xaverský, an important Jesuit missionary and one of the main patrons of the Society of Jesus. By liturgical purpose, it belongs to the set of three litanies and one mass that Zelenka composed during his lifetime for the celebration of this saint. After all, he was in close contact with the Jesuits almost all his life, both during his studies and work in Prague, and also later in Dresden, where the Jesuit clergy ensured the operation of the court Catholic church. However, these litanies occupy a special place in Zelenka's works, as they were created during his stay in Prague in 1723. In that year, the capital of the Czech Kingdom was preparing for spectacular celebrations of the coronation of Emperor Charles VI. to become the king of Bohemia and the attention of the nobility from all over Europe was focused on this event. On the order of the Prague Jesuits, Zelenka composed the allegorical play Melodrama de Sancto Wenceslao, also known as Sub Olea Pacis et Palma Virtutis..., which was a great success and marked the peak of social recognition for Zelenka. During his stay in Prague, he composed several other works, and on November 29, 1723, he also completed the aforementioned Litanie Xaverianae. They were most likely premiered only a few days later, on December 3 when the celebration of the feast of the order's patron František Xaverský was held in the Jesuit Church of the Most Holy Salvator in Prague's Clementine College. Perhaps we will not be far from the truth if we think of the work as Zelenka's personal thank-you to the local Jesuits for the possibility of a successful engagement at the coronation festivities.

     The fact that Zelenka composed the work for a special occasion in the Prague environment might also be reflected in the instrumentation. In addition to string instruments with basso continuo, the score includes two clarines with timpani, which significantly complete the festive character of the piece. In the tenor aria Pater de Coelis, the score (in the violin part) includes the notation "Violini e Oboe unisoni". According to contemporary practice, it means that oboes could also play together with violins in the choral parts of the litanies, although they are not directly mentioned in any of them, the only exception is the immediately following chorus Dignissime, et Dilectissime Fili, where it explicitly says "senza oboe". Zelenka also used an unusual cast in the seventh part of the Fugator Daemonum Litanies, which he composed for three solo basses. He used the same ensemble of soloists, for example, a year later in the arrangement of the Psalm de Profundis, ZWV 97. One more interesting thing is hidden in the opening Kyrie, which formally consists of two parts. After the ceremonial introduction, starting with bar 24 Zelenka presents a fugue in the so-called stile antico, i.e. the old polyphonic style. It is a modified part of the incompletely preserved Kyrie from the older Loretta Litanies, ZWV 149, which Zelenka wrote already in 1718 during his stay in Vienna.The technical difficulty of the instrumental parts in the litanies to St. František Xaverský reveals that even in Prague Zelenka was sure of the high quality of the musicians entrusted with the performance. While in certain aspects of the instrumentation we can observe the consideration of regional conditions and specifics, as far as the quality of the compositions is concerned, Zelenka was never satisfied with anything less than the highest quality.

Lukáš M. Vytlačil

© Studio Svengali, June 2024
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