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František JIRÁNEK (1698-1778)
Concerto in D for violin, strings and basso continuo, RV Anh.8/Jk Ap.1 poss. attrib Antonio Vivaldi [16:28]
Concerto in B flat major for oboe, strings and bass continuo, Jk 17 [11:52]
Concerto in G major for bassoon, strings and basso continuo, Jk 20 [10:40]
Concerto in D major for flute, strings and basso continuo, Jk 11 [9:23]
Concerto in F major for oboe, strings and basso continuo, Jk 15 [10:26]
Triple Concerto for flute, violin, viola d’amore, strings and basso continuo, Jk22 [9:43]
Sergio Azzolini (bassoon): Xenia Löffler (oboe): Jana Semerádová (flute): Lenka Torgersen (violin): Vojtěch Semerád (viola d’amore)
Collegium Marianum/Jana Semerádová
rec. April 2016, Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Prague, Vinohrady
SUPRAPHON SU4208-2 [69:09]

Once again Supraphon has included František Jiránek in its ever-widening corpus of discs celebrating music from eighteenth-century Prague. For details of that earlier disc, which also contained concertos for flute, bassoon and violin, and for a brief summary of the composer’s life, try the review of that disc.

The first work offers the most intriguing suggestion: is this Concerto in D for violin by the Czech composer or by a certain Antonio Vivaldi? No one seems quite sure, and the evidence seems contradictory. But the concerto is a most attractive piece with anticipations and suspensions that sound not unlike the Venetian’s 1720s self but with a pensive quality and deft solo decorations that could still be his work – or, equally, that of Jiránek. Lenka Torgersen plays with crisp bowing and appositely tight rhythms.

The Oboe Concerto in B flat major is a stylistically different beast, couched this time in the Galant fashion. Jiránek’s adaptability in this respect is presumably the result of his being a violinist-composer rather than a composer-violinist or even – much less likely given the circumstances of the time – a full time composer. It’s somewhat superior to the Oboe Concerto in F major, which is rather conventionally four-square. He probably had a particular player in mind when he wrote for the bassoon, as he wrote so much for the instrument and didn’t stint technical difficulties. This G major concerto is a sturdy example of the composer’s more workmanlike qualities, but he shows, in the rather spare slow movement, how he could vest such a movement with the maximum of expressive potential. The finale is a reconstruction by Sergio Azzolini – though the track listing mistakenly attaches that honour to the finale of the B flat major Oboe Concerto. These things get confusing.

The Flute Concerto in D major has a surfeit of Vivaldian Lombard rhythms, though there’s no suggestion it’s the work of Vivaldi – the Czech musician lived and worked in Venice for a number of years and would naturally have imbibed local stylisations. The Adagio of this work is one of the disc’s highpoints as over orchestral pizzicati the flute is borne up on wings of song. The final work is written for the rather bizarre combination of flute, violin and viola d’amore. As we began with a mystery so we end with one. Was the viola d’amore Jiránek’s own idea or was it the work of a nineteenth-century collector and copyist Carl Zoeller? The original parts no longer exist having been destroyed during the Second World War but Zoeller’s copy does exist. He was however a viola d’amore virtuoso and the score as it currently stands contains some odd anomalies. Still, this is a gracefully distributed work with aerial and avuncular elements a-plenty – more than enough to distract the ear without worrying about the work’s origins.

Once more the excellent soloists and Collegium Marianum under Jana Semerádová have been accorded a fine recording and equally helpful booklet notes. This series hasn’t seemed like faltering at any stage and I’m glad to say it hasn’t done so here.

Jonathan Woolf



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