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Bach and Zelenka   

Bach's Trauerode - Lass Fürstin

Zelenka's Requiem in D


This concert is still in our planning having been postponed in 2020 owing to the pandemic.

The successful performance of J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor in September 2019 prompted a deeper exploration of the music of Bach and his contemporaries by Brisbane Concert Choir. The challenge of this master's compositions has got under our skins and we cannot wait to bring you more of Bach's superb work.

When conditions allow we will present two works that are linked, to provide you with an aural feast. J.S. Bach's Trauerode - Lass Fürstin (BWV 198) and Jan Dismas Zelenka's Requiem in D (ZWV 46) will offer a rare treat for Queenslanders. There is no record of Zelenka's Requiem having been performed in Brisbane. 

This will create a beautiful pairing of instrumental highlights, including the chalemeau (early clarinet) solos in the Zelenka and the use of gambas and lutes in the Bach. Beautiful solo voice movements interspersed with Bach's demand yet again for skilful singing by choristers.

As Peter Roennfeldt states: "According to most scholars, J.S. Bach's Missa (Kyrie and Gloria of the B Minor Mass) was composed in 1733 on the occasion of the death of the Elector of Saxony Frederick Augustus 1 'the Strong', and the accession of his son Frederick Augustus 11. The complexity and grandeur of the music was certainly fitting for such an occasion, given the lavish resources of the Dresden Court, including its fine singers and players.

"Augustus 1 had in 1697 converted to Catholicism so as to be eligible to become King of Poland, but this greatly annoyed the burgers of Dresden who were mostly committed to their Lutheran Protestant faith, the most obvious symbol of which was the building of the Frauenkirche which opened in 1743, and who organ was inspected and played by Bach soon after its installation in 1736.

"Bach's hoped-for appointment to the Royal Court in Dresden did not come to fruition, so he spent the rest of his career in Leipzig which, even more than the Saxon capital, was a stronghold of Lutheran theology and liturgy with its university and Thomaskirche. The citizens of Leipzig held in high regard the consort of Augustus 1, Christiane Eberhardine, because she refused to convert, so her death in 1727 was deeply felt.

"The genesis of Bach's tribute to the Electress of Saxony, the Trauerode - Lass Fürstin BWV 198 is very well documented. Unusually, he was given permission to have his music performed at the University Church where he normally had no connections. Furthermore, it is a secular ceremonial work with poetry directed to the object of mourning, yet it has many hallmarks of Bach's great sacred works and is twice the length of an average church cantata. Due to the special occasion, Bach lavished some of his finest musical and orchestration ideas on this work.

"Meanwhile during the 1720s in Dresden where Johannn David Heinichen was the Kapellmeister, because of Heinichen's increasing ill health the bulk of the Catholic Court's church music was delegated to Jan Dismas Zelenka, a friend of Bach who had travelled to Saxony from Bohemia, together with several other prominent musicians. Zelenka was called upon to write the official Requiem in D ZWV 46 for the funeral rites of Augustus 1 in 1733: the relative speed of its composition not apparent in the brilliant music Zelenka created for the occasion."

Dr Debra Shearer-Dirié


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