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David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2018

The once-famous Bohemian-born, Leopold Koželuch, is in need of resuscitation if he is to emerge from the long list of forgotten composers of the Eighteenth century. To relate the background of accession of Leopold II to the throne as King of Bohemia would require a historic treatise in itself, but it certainly came at a difficult time for European royalty. He was therefore careful in his choice of music to mark the festivities, eventually commissioning a new opera from Mozart, La clemenza di Tito, and the cantata, Heil dem Monarchen, from Leopold Koželuch. He was viewed as a ‘safe pair of hands’ who would provide an uncomplicated score in the required celebratory mood, its format being the conventional contrasting recitatives, arias and ensemble for three soloists, chorus and orchestra, the celebratory aspects restricting the soloists to high voices. Like all of his works, it enjoyed success largely by virtue of his publishing house that saw them disseminated throughout Europe. His problem stems from his insatiable desire to compose, resulting in a torrent of works most relying of threadbare thematic material. Maybe this cantata shows more promise than most of his output, and it is well worth discovering. Stylistically it relies on Bach and Handel, but it is difficult to believe this was written in the time of Mozart. Of the soloists the operatic soprano, Kristýna Vylíčilová, is outstanding in her arias, the tenor, Tomáš Kořínek, finding many moments that are stressful in the high register. The small chamber choir, the Martinů Voices, and the Prague Symphony Orchestra, with the conductor, Marek Štilec, do everything possible for the work, while the recording engineers have created a well-balanced and a very detailed sound. © 2018 David’s Review Corner

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