VENUE - aLL sAINTS cHURCH, cHELTENHAM
All Saints Road, Cheltenham GL52 2HG
Zelenka Missa Votiva Standish Consort Oxford Alumni Choir
Our December concert will bring you several pieces of music from the court at Dresden in the early 18th Century in the beautiful church of All Saints in Cheltenham.
Standish Consort is an Oxford Alumni Choir directed by Mark Wilson, Director of Music at Pembroke College Oxford and of Ensemble La Notte who will play with Standish Consort at this performance.
To clear his way to the throne of Poland, Saxon Elector Friedrich August I converted to Catholicism in 1697. One of the many and wide-ranging results of this conversion, in addition to him successfully ascending to the Polish throne as King August II, was that an entirely new liturgical repertoire and commensurately trained musicians were required at his court at Dresden. Highly skilled composers and musicians, including Johann Sebastian Bach, vied for positions at what was then one of the most prestigious courts in Europe. Among the successful candidates were Jan Dismas Zelenka, a gifted Czech double bass player who enjoyed composing on the side, and Johann David Heinichen, who was appointed to the position of Kapellmeister. Their positions at court afforded them the opportunity to travel and study extensively in Europe, including an investigation in Vienna with the master of counterpoint, Johann Joseph Fux, who completes our trio of composers for this concert.
Over the course of some 30 years at Dresden, Zelenka developed a unique style, using multiple techniques to bring moments of high drama to his works, as well as bringing the newly emergent form of Italian opera into the church. His style might be described as similar to that of Vivaldi, but with more heft and clout. Despite being highly regarded by other composers of his day, such as Telemann and Bach, Zelenka’s works are now rarely performed. This is partly due to his works being purchased after his death in 1745, and thereafter being kept under lock and key until their rediscovery in the 1860s. Further damage and losses were caused by bombings during World War II. Heinichen and Fux’s works fared little better, despite their treatises on music theory still influencing music today. This concert, then, affords a vanishingly rare opportunity to hear the works of all three brought together, and performed by some of the best budding baroque specialists in the country.