Zelenka: Missa Omnium Sanctorum – a true Baroque masterwork

In an ideal world, the works of Jan Dismas Zelenka would be as familiar as those of Johann Sebastian Bach, or Georg Philipp Telemann. Both were friends and colleagues of Zelenka, and both admired his work.

The 1741 Missa Omnium Sanctorum is one such work. It’s a major work (over 50 minutes long), and an important one. Zelenka was not only the court composer in Dresden but the official church composer as well.

Zelenka, like Bach, uses the text to guide the direction of the melodies. And Zelenka is a master of counterpoint. I place his fugal choruses somewhere between Bach’s and Handel’s. They have the complexity of the former and the tunefulness of the latter.

In fact, tunefulness could describe this entire work. Zelena’s arias are quite appealing, seemingly simple in structure. The soloists are equally appealing.

Tenor Cyrila Auvity sings with a rich, creamy tone. The voice of countertenor Filippo Mineccia, featured in the “Misere,” has a bell-like purity that’s quite beautiful.

Ruben Jais delivers an interpretation that I’d call joyous. From the bouncy dance-like “Gloria” through to the exuberant “Agnus Dei,” this mass was just plain fun.

The ensemble and chorus are close-miked, with minimal decay. That’s a good thing. It keeps the dense contrapuntal passages sounding clear, and lends an air of lightness to the music.

A wonderful performance of a Baroque masterwork.

Jan Dismas Zelenka: Missa Omnium Sanctorum, ZWV 21
Carlotta Colombo, soprano; Filippo Mineccia, alto; Cyril Auvity, tenor; Lukas Zeman, bass
laBarocca; Ruben Jais, director
Glossa Music GCD 924103

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