Zelenka: Sei Sonate

104:10 (2 CDs in a cardboard sleeve)
Arcana A394

These two CDs were originally recorded and released by naïve in the mid 1990s; recorded out of numerical order, sonatas 5, 6 and 2 are on the first disk, while 1, 3 (in which a violin replaces one of the oboes) and 4 are on the other. Both sets involve a theorbo and deep string bass (contrabbasso on CD1 and violone on CD2), all played by different players. The wind soloists are constant (and what a stellar line-up – Paolo Grazzi and Alfredo Bernardini on oboe and Alberto Grazzi on bassoon); Manfredo Kraemer is the violinist. Where for most composers six trio sonatas would comfortably fit on a single disc, Zelenka’s expansive contrapuntal themes mean that it is not unusual for individual movements to exceed six minutes, and there is even one which lasts more than eight minutes! In these performers’ hands, though, the music unfolds organically and simply fills the space; it certainly never feels too long, and in some sense (at least as far as this listener is concerned) Zelenka could easily have sustained movements of even greater length, had he chosen to do so. Bravo to all concerned!

Brian Clark