prague baroque orchestra & vocal ensemble               
REVIEWS

"...a wonderful freshness, the spirit of the dance, the celestial dance, which underlies so much of Bach’s music, beautifully brought out, very, very skillful instrumental playing."
Richard Wigmore, BBC Radio 3 on Bach: B Minor Mass CD

Gold medal for L'Olimpiade!
Libération, Éric Dahan

"With Collegium 1704 and with Collegium Vocale 1704 Luks does (...) have two outstanding ensembles at his disposal. Their technical sovereignty opens up almost endless opportunities..."
FONO FORUM 12/2013 on J. S. Bach: B Minor Mass CD

"...intelligence at every level and everything always according to good taste. Irreproachable in terms of realization and intentions..."
La Montagne, Pierre-Olivier Febvret

Gramophone_EditorsChoice"
Václav Luks directs the Officium defunctorum with ample dramatic energy; Collegium 1704’s players and choir perform with lyricism and precision. The extraordinary invitatory sequence has some astonishing dramatic gestures in its orchestral ritornellos  (...) A fabulous masterpiece is unveiled."

Gramophone, David Vickers on J. D. Zelenka: Officium defunctorum CD

diapasondor"...The whole CD, from the beginning up to its very end, is a testimony of preciseness and rare stylistic perfection of Collegium 1704. This is a real music discovery."
Diapason, Jean-Luc Macia on Reichenauer: Concerts CD



Mozart with enthusiasm
“The wealth of colours, its dense emotionality and the compositional refinement could be heard to its best advantage – and this at a musical and stylistic outstanding level. The vocal and instrumental parts blended perfectly into each other, with springy and slender sound, transparent down to the last detail, rich in contrast and lively in a manner that ... truly only very seldom can be experienced.”
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, 14. 1. 2014, M. Hanns
W. A. Mozart: Great Mass in C minor

Zelenka specialists put their stamp stamp on Bach’s B Minor masterpiece
"But perhaps the most telling thing about this recording is the way that Luks so brilliantly holds together this behemoth, stylistically varied and technically indulgent in so many Baroque forms and effects. His players and singers are readily enthusiastic about the enterprise, making this the most exciting version of the Mass I have ever heard."
Audiophile Audition, Steven Ritter, 11/2013
J. S. Bach: B Minor Mass CD review

Bach as he was meant to sound in a performance of admirable quality and visceral excitement

"Luks carefully shapes a rising dramatic trajectory beginning with a leisurely paced Kyrie and a joyful but not over-driven Gloria then building the intensity of each movement to an ecstatic Et expecto resurrectionem. He crowns the work with a fleet and bouncy Sanctus; the tempo may be a shock to some but makes perfect musical sense – the old interpretive cliché of “the great bell” revealed as a 19th century accretion. His choir is forthright and characterful yet precise with spot-on intonation and the soloists are an ideal match."
Limelight Magazine, Australia, 12/2013
J. S. Bach: B Minor Mass CD review

Schütz — Michna — Pekiel (Heinrich Schütz Music Festival)
“Here as well as in the madrigals by Schütz the musicians around Luks provided an impressive musical experience, which attracted senses and intellect in the same way and brought the Music Festival a definite great close.”
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, Hartmut Schütz, 22. 10. 2013

Bach Mass in B minor by Collegium 1704
"There are many reasons to welcome this release, sufficient to answer anyone who doubts the need for another recording of Bach’s ‘Great Catholic Mass’. (...) their compelling take on one of the greatest works of sacred music offers a rare blend of youthful energy and mature artistic insight. Luks resists the lemming-like urge to copy ideas fashioned by famous pioneers of historically informed performance. His personal vision of tempo, for instance, is imaginative, not imitative."
(SINFINI MUSIC, September 2013, Andrew Stewart)

"Baroque Opera Stars" Came out under a Lucky Star
Voce dell'anima / Baroque Opera Stars, October 30, 2012

"Voce dell'anima, the first concert of the cycle united both the performers and the audience of the Dvořák Hall into an associated fellowship with unique atmosphere thanks to candles and sensitive light design of Pavla Beranová."
operaplus.cz, Helena Havlíková, 06/11/2012

New Cycle Baroque Opera Stars Began. Collegium 1704 Served Music with Passion
Voce dell'anima / Baroque Opera Stars, October 30, 2012
"The concert was a meeting with unlavish, passionate and expert's perfect art, that serves music absolutely, just like the artistic manager of Collegium 1704 Václav Luks."
ihned.cz, Petr Veber, 31/10/2012 

The Cycle of Old Music Introduced its First Stars in Rudolfinum
Voce dell'anima / Baroque Opera Stars, October 30, 2012
"After the break, both singers were united by the hymn Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and the interpretation made the audience enthusiastic, which was expressed by a long applause."
denik.cz, čtk, 31/10/2012

When the Voice of the Spirit Speaks
Voce dell'anima / Baroque Opera Stars, October 30, 2012
"The interpretation of Pergolesi by Collegium 1704 was outstanding that evening, the audience seems to even forget to breath in some moments. Above all, both solists created a celestial delicious duo, their voices with a similarly dark timbre united perfectly together."
operaplus.cz, Svataba Barančicová, 31/10/2012

Václav Luks: I Will Bring Old Music to Rudolfinum
An interview with Václav Luks
"My big dream is to perform regularly in South America. The audience there is unbelievably perceptive and hungry for the old music. I performed there comple of times and I am convinced that this area is the future of the western culture."
ihned.cz, Dita Hradecká, 29/10/2012

Sometimes You Get Goose Bumps from Horror, Other Times from Beauty
Missa Omnium Sanctorum ZWV 21 / Music Bridge Prague — Dresden, October 16, 2012
"[...] And this all is conducted and experienced at the same time by a young man with glasses and without a baton called Václav Luks, and you trust him that all the music that they play and sing according to him is not only in his heart and soul, but also in his magical fingers and dancing body."
MF DNES, Jiří Stránský, 18/10/2012

Raffaella Milanesi - She Sings the Music of Italia, Drerams of France and Loves Zelenka
Interview with Raffaella Milanesi
"Thanks to Václav Luks and his amazing interpretation abilities I discovered Zelenka's religious works, when I was singing his Missa Votiva - I fell in love with his special and complicated way of composing that is hard to understand and that creates honestly written and transcendent composition."
muzikus.cz, Michaela Freemanová, 24/09/2012


Glorious passion music

review:  Zelenka, Jan Dismas - Responsoria pro hebdomada sancta ZWV 55
 „(…) Also the choir’s cast is chamber, which enables Luks to bring out vividly the various, subtle nuances even in the larger choral movements. The soloistic passages are performed by alternating singers, whose performances are at very high level without any exception. Their voices are mostly very young, but not as linear focused as usually practised in English ensembles. Instead, most of them are using a cultivated vibrato, to give an additional colour to the music. The orchestra accompanies them sensitively and expressively. Especially both oboists Luise Haugk and Tereza Pavelkova shine at their sensitive played parts, which are an insistent completion of the sung words.”
klassik.com, Christiane Bayer, 20/6/2012
 
Versailles Grand Trianon: GALA OF THE 4 COUNTERTENORS

Splendidly the famous palace, which Ludwig XIV had built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, lies in first summer evening’s sunshine. The famous marble’s pink of the columned hall reflects the light of the flourishing meadows. An atmosphere to kneel down, before the enthusiasts of Baroque music timely take a seat in the great hall, while Czech ensemble Collegium 1704 is tuning their instruments. All are waiting for the contest of four of the most important countertenors of our time for the favour of Händel and his contemporaries as much as the audience.
(...)
Among so much heavenly vocal music Václav Luks is capable to set the right dramatic-earthly counterpoint with utmost intuition. The ensemble, most enthusiastic and in perfect harmony, pleasantly stands out from the esoteric chirping of other minimalistic cast Baroque orchestras. It builds up the essential columns on the solemn dance-like parquet floor, on which the shiny vocal rockets find hold and grounding for their ephemeral art.
Der Neue Merker, Dr. Ingobert Waltenberger, 19/6/2012

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Prelude to a Movement After Communism, a New Generation of Czech Stars Is Taking the Classical World by Storm
"A new wave of young Czech classical musicians is on the brink of major international careers. As the Prague Spring Festival gets underway, we look at the country's breakthrough artists: opera singer Magdalena Kožená, artistic director Václav Luks, the Pavel Haas Quartet, conductor Tomáš Netopil, bass-baritone Adam Plachetka (..)"
“This year, Mr. Luks and his Collegium will undertake a European tour with Ms. Kožená, performing vocal works by Händel and Vivaldi, and then inaugurate a period-instrument series at Prague's leading musical venue, the Rudolfinum, home to the Czech Philharmonic.”
The Wall Street Journal, J. S. Marcus, 18/5/2012 
 

REVIEW J.D.Zelenka Responsoria: Music full of beauty
"Jan Dismas Zelenka is using the traditional movement of choir in four parts in a very innovative way: surprising harmonic turns, sensitive melodies and again and again new arrangements of the voices. Thereby every single movement receives its own character. All these details are revealed by the musicians. You can clearly hear that specialists in Zelenka are performing. The members of the ensemble Collegium Vocale 1704 conducted by Czech Václav Luks are singing with expertise and full of soul. In this way the music can unveil their entire beauty."
NDR Kultur, 6. 4. 2012, Ulrike Henningsen
 

REVIEW J.D.Zelenka Responsoria: Sounding vaults
"Ensemble conductor Václav Luks ... focused on ... the reconstruction of the three times three original Nocturnes. [...] These are winning their suggestive power from the nearly endless floating melismas and the harsh, harmonic frictions as well as a polyphonic layering, which turns the whole into a dark sounding church room of gothic dimensions. The listener is able to sink like in meditation without ever getting lost.

Despite the homogeneous basic structure, Collegium Vocale and Collegium 1704 are giving all responsories their own character. Precision and stylistic mastery of the performers are winning the listener over, just as the calmness and seriousness, with which the pieces are performed. The sound of Collegium Vocale, whose vocal groups are cast with four singers each, is of amazing homogeneity.

And even though the recording has been produced at a studio, it captivates due to a Lucullan, full and velvety acoustic impression."
www.musikansich.de, March 2012, Sven Kerkhoff

 

Messiah warmly received at the Saint-Robert Abbey
“...Finally, the choral finale was a summation of the conducting of Václav Luks: assertive, lively, invigorating without brutality, with striking pianissimos. In short, here was a vivid, committed interpretation of Messiah.”
ResMusica, Jean-Noël Démard, 26/8/2011

Jan Dismas Zelenka performed by Collegium 1704 / Festival de Sablé
"Václav Luks and Collegium 1704 gave an engaged and chiseled performance that was movingly dramatic. Under direction of extreme precision in the manner of delicate calligraphy, the instrumentalists and singers showed the color of the music’s masterful yet subtle sensuality, complex architecture and frenetic inner torment. With its homogenous, brilliant sound, the chorus demonstrated its luminous mastery of this dolorous text. In the Miserere heard after intermission, the soprano Hana Blažíková (Gloria Patri) was impressive for her sensuous tone and her smooth, radiant high register. Collegium 1704 is the ideal ensemble to advocate this music, which has now regained once and for all its rightful place.”
Anaclase – la musique au jour le jour, MP, 8/2011

Luks did not waver with a performance of Messiah in faultlessly good taste
“…intelligence at every level and never anything not in good taste. Irreproachable in terms of realization and intentions. And a rare level of confidence between the conductor and the musicians.
And the result? Their attacks are marvelous, and their nuances are on the scale of millimeters. The chorus (twenty voices) is totally committed.“
La Montagne, Pierre-Olivier Febvret, 23/8/2011

Bach and Zelenka can afford the luksury of Luks
"In baroque music, everything is a question of temperament. The temperament of Vaclav Luks, of his Collegium 1704 and of Collegium Vocale 1704 (Prague) is wonderfully suited to Bach's music. (…) The result is nothing short of a magnificent equilibrium offered by artists who do not conceal their pleasure. (…) The surprise, however, came with Zelenka, Bach’s Czech twin. Luks and his musicians always allow themselves greater liberty with Zelenka. This is fortunate, because his Te Deum is full of bold strokes at the harmonic, sonic and structural levels. (…) Luks is truly deluxe…“
La Montagne, Pierre-Olivier Febvret, 21/8/2011

"...The whole CD, from the beginning up to its very end, is a testimony of preciseness and rare stylistic perfection of Collegium 1704. This is a real music discovery."
Diapason, Jean-Luc Macia, 7/2011


Review: Antonín REICHENAUER – Concerts
...The playing is exemplary, as Collegium 1704 are a characterful, always attractive period ensemble of modest size but considerable prowess; you’ll know this if you’ve heard their stunning Zelenka Missa votiva. A theorbo adds character to the bass parts and keyboardist Luks wheels out a small organ for the violin and G minor bassoon concertos. The three soloists — Sergio Azzolini on bassoon, Xenia Löffler on oboe, and Lenka Torgersen on violin — are superb; I would usually try to single one of them out for special praise, but it is hard to do so when all three are so deserving. Marvelous sound and a good booklet read seal the deal.
Baroque enthusiasts will love this."
MusicWeb International, Brian Reinhart, 6/2011

REVIEW: RECORDING OF THE MONTH
(review of the Zelenka Officium defunctorum ZWV 47, Requiem in D ZWV 46 CD)
„...Those harmonies (memento mei Domine from Nocturno II) at 0:55 and onwards stopped me in my tracks and made me go weak at the knees – Zelenka’s original intention I’m sure, and still with plenty of stirring impact today. The Officium defunctorium is just full of moments like this. (...) The Christe eleison has an almost jazz feel with its obbligato chalumeau, a clarinet-like instrument which teases the ear in the same range as the female vocal solo like a baroque Benny Goodman. (...)
This is definitely one of my 2011 recordings of the year."
MusicWeb International, Dominy Clements, 5/2011


Gramophone_EditorsChoiceGramophone Magazine Editor's Choice & Disc of the Month for CD Zelenka: Officium defunctorum & Requiem

Newly published CD Zelenka: Officium defunctorum & Requiem has been honoured with prestigious Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice and chosen as Disc of the Month June 2011.

"Václav Luks directs the Officium defunctorum with ample dramatic energy; Collegium 1704’s players and choir perform with lyricism and precision. The extraordinary invitatory sequence has some astonishing dramatic gestures in its orchestral ritornellos, and alto Markéta Cukrová and the excellent choir interleave fluently. (...) Collegium 1704’s horns, trumpets and flutes create charming textures in the opening and closing parts of the celebratory Kyrie, which flank Hana Blažíková’s graceful singing in 'Christe eleison'. (...) A fabulous masterpiece is unveiled."
You can listen to the CD also via Gramophone Player.
Gramophone, David Vickers, 14/4/2011


Leading Zelenka performers of the day(from the Zelenka Officium defunctorum ZWV 47, Requiem in D ZWV 46 review)
"...the solo singers are outstanding – it may be naughty of me to draw attention to just one of them, but I feel I should herald yet another star in the Czech early music firmament, contralto Markéta Cukrová is definitely going places (you head it first from me!) – and as an ensemble, the 1704s are among the leading Zelenka performers of the day. I would say THE leading Zelenka performers, but they have formidable rivals to that designation from their compatriots, Adam Viktora's Ensemble Inégal. Happy days for Zelenka fans."
Early Music Review, BC, April 2011


L’Estro Armonico, COLLEGIUM 1704, Břevnov Monastery, February 4, 2011

"...Václav Luks and his ensemble handled Vivaldi with the same spirit and aplomb they bring to all their performances – which is to say, with intelligence, precision and uptempo enthusiasm. (...) the momentum of the music carried the pieces past specific notes and phrases, into that seductive realm where Vivaldi’s charms – repetitive though they may be – are irresistible, and you can’t help but let go and be carried away. (...) One of the intangibles of Collegium 1704 performances is the attitude of the players, a focused group who combine discipline and vivacity as well as anybody on the early music circuit. (...) By the end it was obvious how much fun they were having, an attitude that the audience picked up on and reciprocated with cheers and whoops.
Prague Culture,
Frank Kuznik, 8/2/2011


Messiah, COLLEGIUM 1704, Sts. Simon & Jude Church, December 31, 2010

"...Collegium 1704 served up a fiery performance of the popular oratorio Friday night that brought a capacity crowd to its feet and lent a radiant glow to the frosty streets of Old Town. (...) The sound was rich and full, yet perfectly clear. (...) The chorus followed, sounding perhaps the best that it has all year, vibrant and spirited without losing any of the complexity or nuances of the music. Luks is masterful at drawing out the subtleties of anything he conducts, while giving free rein to vocals that seem to soar heavenward. (...) Marián Krejčík showed surprising range for a bass singer, and excellent diction. Soprano Alena Hellerová and alto Markéta Cukrová were also strikingly fluent with the English-language text. (...) The other intangible that Collegium 1704 brings to the early music repertoire is its exuberance, a sense of joy and spontaneity that transcends anything on the printed page. This was in full bloom Friday night, evident in everything from the smiles on the violin players’ faces to the energy of the music as it burst from the stage like a shower of confetti and balloons. There are other ways to interpret the Messiah, but it would hard to surpass this one for emotional power and eloquence. So it seemed only natural that, as the echoes of a “Hallelujah” encore reverberated through the church, the audience rose to its feet with a wave of applause and cries of “Bravo!” Prague audiences will give a standing ovation to almost anything these days, but this one was honestly earned and well-deserved..."
Prague Culture,
Frank Kuznik, 2/1/2011


Luks and his ensemble at the gates of heaven
“…Collegium 1704 performs Baroque with a passion, a punctilious version of the music that soars with energy and glows with feeling. It has a transformative effect (…) hearing Collegium1704 ina church is the closest you can get to heaven on earth (…) The final movement (of Ich Hatte Viel Bekümmernis (BWV 21)), with the full chorus and horns hitting high notes and volume, sounded like a call for the gates of heaven to be opened.
Writing about the music more precisely is difficult because, in the hands of conductor Václav Luks, it is incredibly seductive. Analytical distance quickly dissipates under his deft touch, which is pronounced yet light, expressive without ever losing a single beat or note. There’s no one who knits together a Baroque score so delicately and at the same time so precisely. Luks is seriously devoted to the scholarship of this music, but in performance he pulls it off with great spontaneity.
In short, hearing Collegium 1704 is an experience. The atmospherics are engaging, the music is superb and the execution is exquisite – but the sum of all that is something else, a flight to another space and time. Just ask the angels and saints.”
Prague Culture, Frank Kuznik, 1/11/2010
Newly published CD <strong><a href="index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88:jan-dismas-zelenka-16791745&catid=36&Itemid=100">Zelenka: Officium defunctorum & Requiema>strong> has been honoured with prestigious <em>Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choiceem> and chosen as <em>Disc of the Monthem> June 2011.<br /><em>"Václav Luks directs the em>Officium defunctorum<em> with ample dramatic energy; Collegium 1704’s players and choir perform with lyricism and precision. The extraordinary invitatory sequence has some astonishing dramatic gestures in its orchestral ritornellos, and alto Markéta Cukrová and the excellent choir interleave fluently. (...) Collegium 1704’s horns, trumpets and flutes create charming textures in the opening and closing parts of the celebratory Kyrie, which flank Hana Blažíková’s graceful singing in 'Christe eleison'. (...) A fabulous masterpiece is unveiled."<br />em>Says David Vickers in his <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/zelenka-officium-defunctorum-zwv47-requiem-zwv46">review for a><strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/zelenka-officium-defunctorum-zwv47-requiem-zwv46">Gramophonea>strong>, 14/4/2011<br /><br />Listen to the CD via <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.gramophone.co.uk/editorial/gramophone-player-user-guide">Gramophone Playera>strong>.<
 

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