Superb! This is the first recording of Zelenka's Capriccoios using baroque horns with no hand-stoping. Zelenka's capriccios are remarkable displays of both composition and almost nerve wreakingly high demands of technical difficulties for the horns. Some of the high tones on the horns are unprecedented in musical history up untill the high-romantic works of Wagner and Mahler.
Other rare features of his capriccios are the dance forms used, some which are not commonly encountered in the suites of his contemporaries, but which may be found in older works form Composers like Biber and Muffat, such as "Payson" (pesante), villanella and canarie.
The capriccios features some traits which may resemble individual details in works by Johann David Heinichen and Johann Joseph Fux, but they could not be taken as works of any other Composer than Zelenka. His quirky rythms and long themes are fully in his own individual style, besides the difficulties of technique both for bassoon, oboes and horns, wich are also so charchteristic of this wonderful Bohemian composer
Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1741) are one of the most intriguing composers of the baroque era. This highly individual Composer, a late bloomer in many ways, compared to Händel, Telemann and JS Bach, has a dark and witty sense of humour like no other Composer (except perhaps for Gustav Mahler). Relatively little is known of him, and much has to be guessed out of circumstantial evidence from different environments in Prague, Vienna and Dresden (and possibly also Venice). He was a master of the violone (largest member of the viol family), a Jesuitt and probably worked as a spy, perhaps for the Jesuitt-order or directly for the Emperor.
His only known teachers were his father (an organist) and the Imperial court-composer Johann Joseph Fux of Vienna, besides that he seems to be self-taught. Zelenka was on friendly terms with several distinguished Composers, i.e. his superior in Dresden, Court-Composer Johann David Heinichen, and the Dresden concertmaster Johann Georg Pisendel, Christoph Graupner, Johann Joachim Quantz, a fellow colleague of the Hof-Capelle and others, including JS Bach and his sons, perhaps old Bach was the only contemporary composer rivalling him in the mastering of contrapunctal technique.
The Bach-Sinfonia was new to me, and so to was Daniel Abraham. This ensemble is playing in a historical informed way, with accurate copies of historical instruments. The playing is perhaps not top-notch, like some European ensambles, but it has several moments of elan and wit and are well considered interpretations.
As mentioned earlier this recording is unique in the sense of the hornplaying with no hand-stoping, tracing it back to performance practice before about 1750, where as I understand, hand-stoping became more widespread. A second thing that also should be mentioned is that David Abraham has made his own editions of the works and considered some other options compared to other editions.
The Sono luminus-label is also new to me. The Blu-ray disc presents a fantastic sound, and I most warmly recommends this recording!!!