Zelenka : Il serpente di Bronzo (oratorio)Praga, 2005 (Audio)
Director: Adam Viktora
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Zelenka's pieces are characterized by very daring compositional structure, with a highly spirited harmonic invention and perfection of the art of counterpoint.
His works are often virtuosic and difficult to perform, but always fresh and surprising, with sudden turns of harmony, being always a challenge for their interpreters. In particular, his writing for bass instruments is far more demanding than that of other composers of his era, notably the "utopian" demands of the oboe scores in his trio sonatas.
His instrumental works (the trio sonatas, capricci, and concertos) are exemplary models of his early style (1710s - 1720s). The six trio sonatas demand high virtuosity and expressive sensitivity from performers. As Zelenka was himself a violone player, he was known to write fast-moving continuo parts with driving and complicated rhythm.
Zelenka was aware of the music in different regions of Europe. He wrote complex fugues, ornate operatic arias, galant-style dances, baroque recitatives, Palestrina-like chorales, and virtuosic concertos.
Zelenka's musical language is closest to Bach's, especially in its richness of contrapuntal harmonies and ingenious usage of fugal themes. Nevertheless, Zelenka's language is idiosyncratic in its unexpected harmonic twists, obsession with chromatic harmonies, huge usage of syncopated and tuplet figures, and unusually long phrases full of varied musical ideas. He is sometimes considered as Bach's Catholic counterpart, in his works.
Zelenka's music is influenced by Czech folk music. In this respect, he continues the tradition of the production of specific Czech national music, initiated by Adam Michna Otradovic and brought to its culmination later, in works by Bedrich Smetana, Antonín Dvorák and Leos Janácek.
Il serpente di Bronzo is one of his 3 oratorios: Il Serpente di bronzo,Gesù al Calvario, penitenti al sepolchro del Redentore