Český rozhlas Vltava / Klasika, 28. srpna 2016


Když se umění snoubí s pokorou.
Záznam koncertu Ensemble Berlin-Prag na Smetanově Litomyšli a rozhovor s hobojistou Vilémem Veverkou

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Tribute to Mr. Dismas Zelenka



Prague, St. Simon´s and Jude´s Church

Julius Hůlek (Hudební rozhledy 6 / 2014)

For the occasion of the Year of Czech music 2014 it would be a shame to reminisce and celebrate only the works of the famous and established composers, especially during the Romantic and Post-romantic period, and forget the less known but most would argue equally talented. Therefore, we should not forget our ‘own’ composer, Jan Dismas Zelenka who fundamentally belongs in the group of world class Baroque composers so we can daringly compare him to J. S. Bach, A. Vivaldi and many others. Native to Lounovice pod Blaníkem, Dismas studied at Jesuits in Clementinum and worked his whole life in Dresden. He is best known and respected by music historians as an accomplished author of church music, frequently monumental vocal. His instrumental compositions are less well known. Among them are his trio sonatas which are timeless gems of chamber music. Time to time one of his six trio sonatas is performed and when during the concert the whole cycle is played making it an exceptional performance to experience. The interpretation of all six Sonatas; which include two oboes, violin, bassoon and basso continuo (ZW181) by J.D. Zelenka, is extremely demanding on the instrumental musicians and from this point of view one sonata is enough. Such a unique performance was introduced by the chamber music ensemble Ensemble Berlin Prag (8 April) with the cooperation of international guests: Dominik Wollenweber (DE) (oboe), Vilém Veverka (CZ) (oboe), Mor Biron (IL) (bassoon), Jakub Černohorský (CZ) (violin), Barbara Maria Willi (DE) (cembalo), Pavel Nejtek (CZ) (contrabass). Each of the six sonatas represents its own unique world with an exceptionally high level of composition. This uniqueness was further expanded with the radical interpretation of the original sonatas which benefited from the aesthetic influence of the performers. In fact, it reflected Dimas’s rich experience of church works and the perfect understanding of counterpoint, harmonic innovation which readily crossed over to contemporary period principles with no loss of sophistication. The introduction of Sonata No 4 g minor was expressed by creative individualisation of particular phrases, however not every phrase can be done in the same way. The seamless stream of the first movement brought surprising moments when the melodiously floating bassoon created a reliable orientation element for the second movement, while the melodious line of the oboe lightly dominated the fast third movement. Sonata no 6 c minor was impressively introduced with a mysterious atmosphere brought about by two distinctive individual notes of the two oboes and concluded with a dancing stylisation. This individualisation of the oboe parts (which have undoubtedly an exceptional role in the whole cycle) was even more intensified in Sonata No 2 g minor and a real “combat” enthusiasm broke into the performance. The formation of the contrasting slow movement resonated in an intensive expression. Sonata No 1 F major was introduced by a tightly framed expression of lightened briskness changing to a loose cantilena of slow movement and lucidity with the more expressive soloist parts. In Sonata No 3 B major this was the only time the violin played a significant role and in harmony with this uniqueness it was expressed more remarkably and intensively in sound while gaining the leading role in the final part. During this, the sonata was impressively supported by the concertino principle including the contrabass and we must not forget the brilliant and exceptional role of the bassoon. Sonata No 5 F major was rightfully placed at the end of the programme with its stunning ethereal expression of the more intensive range of the concertino, especially the breath-taking performance of the bassoon and the demanding part of the contrabass in the higher notes. Zelenka´s specic musical hypothesis was beautifully captured with heroic performances of the musicians. It was possible to enjoy the contrast and contemplative elements of the freer movements and be totally immersed with the rich and seductive solo roles in the last movement. If we have to summarise the concert itself, the parables of a well-known saying pars pro toto or all for one, one for all sneaks in noticeably. The concert – in addition to being a credible performance and remembrance of the legacy of the Czech Baroque genius – was most of all an imposing demonstration of expertly erudite interpretations of the Baroque period music in conditions of the new age. The performance, including the complex sound, sound colour and expressive picture of ensemble spectra, breathed as if a live organism. The creative promptness, personal enthusiasm, technical mastery of individual and team ensemble was beyond comparison. (The only intrusive moments, however, were the acoustic conditions – the sound of particular instruments blending together, the delight of the individual “picture” and colour of instruments and their dynamic contouring, as well as balanced sound picture of the team spectra, were unfortunately reserved for the listeners near the stage). We can not under estimate the main role of Vilem Veverka who played with body and soul and beautifully paid tribute to the memory and works of Zelenka while balancing the period of the piece with utterly contemporary elements. Veverka’s interpretive artistry created a spontaneous immediacy which strongly appeals to the contemporary listener.


Zwei Brüder im Geiste - virtuos



Frankenpost, 12. 7. 2014

10. 7. 2014, Oberkotzau, Jakobuskirche

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE CONCERT: Ensemble Berlin-Prag