Missa 1724 — bold interpretation of Jan Dismas Zelenka

The “Missa 1724” is actually an assemblage of various sacred works by Jan Dismas Zelenka. But to be fair, they all come from the same general period of Zelenka’s career, and they do make a convincing whole.

The Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, ZWV 26 recycles some previous material (some only a year older than this 1724 work). The Gloria, ZWV 30 seems to be a rewritten version of a 1714 Gloria. The Credo, ZWV 32, seems to have been a new 1724 composition, using double choirs with eight-voice counterpoint effectively.

The most curious part of this mass is the Benedictus, ZWV dest. Zelenka also arranged music by other composers for performance. One such work was a mass by Giovanni Pisani. It was missing a Benedictus, so Zelenka supplied one — and it’s included here.

The mass may have been cobbled together, but it hangs together pretty well. Because most of the works were written by Zelenka around 1724, there’s a stylistic consistency across them. The Collegium Vocale 1704 has a smooth, warm ensemble sound. It’s a beautiful sound and it serves Zelenka’s choruses well.

That smoothness proved a slight disadvantage in the Gloria. Personally, I sometimes had a hard time following the counterpoint as the voices blended so well with one another. But that’s just me.

The Collegium 1704 ensemble delivered sure-footed if understated performances. But that was in keeping with the music. The instrumentalists often doubled the vocal lines. And even when they weren’t it was clear that their role was as an accompanying ensemble.

Václav Luks made some bold aesthetic decisions in assembling this music and how to present it. In my opinion, those decisions were sound and resulted in some pretty compelling sounds.

Jan Dismas Zelenka: Missa 1724
Salve Reginia, ZWV 137
Collegium 1704 and Collegium Vocale 1704; Vaclav Luks, director
Accent ACC 24363

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