Notes and Editorial Reviews
Wind Concertos: for Flute,
for 2 Oboes d’amore,
for Alto Recorder,
for 2 Horns,
for 2 Flutes and Bassoon,
Michael Schneider (rcr, fl, cond); Karl Kaiser (fl); Martin Stadler (oba); Luise
Baumgartl (oba); Ulrich Hübner, Jörg Schulteß (hn); Marita Schaar (bn); La Staggione Frankfurt (period instruments)
CPO 777401 (67:48)
Telemann specialist Michael Schneider continues apace with his survey of the composer’s wind concertos in this, Volume 5, of the series. Volume 4 was reviewed in
33: 2, and I haven’t much to add to my glowing report on that album and its urgent recommendation.
All but the concerto for two horns adhere to the same four-movement layout (slow-fast-slow-fast) that seems to have been preferred by Telemann and other German Baroque composers, Bach being an exception. The concerto for two horns adopts the preferred Italian three-movement model, fast-slow-fast.
For those predisposed to liking Telemann’s music—and I count myself so inclined—you will find a never-ending supply of invention and variety in these works. Not only does Telemann combine different instruments in imaginative ways, using a polychromatic palette of tonal timbres to set against his canvases of ripieno strings, his reservoir of musical ingenuity is always at the full.
Take the stately opening of the flute concerto with its dignified, noble bearing and processional-like phrases. It’s like the stage setting for the entrance of one of Handel’s queens. Or, take the Bach-like Andante of the concerto for two oboes d’amore, which could almost accompany an aria in the
St. Matthew Passion
. Then there’s the thrilling virtuosity of the Allegro movement from the concerto for alto recorder, and the military call to arms of the concerto for two horns. No two concertos are alike in instrumentation or in their highly individual moods, manners, and modes of expression.
The playing of soloists and ensemble, as noted in my review of Volume 4, is of exceptionally high quality. It may be a paradox of the period-instrument movement that many of its leading ensembles have gotten so good it is now virtually impossible to distinguish them from their modern-instrument counterparts. I mean, what’s the point of period instruments if you can’t have sour, out-of-tune horns, bleating oboes, and strings that sound like they’ve donated blood once too often? For fans of roughing it in tents and sleeping bags, period-instrument performances as cushy as these must seem robbed of all the fun and unexpected (mis)adventures. But for one having no desire to be dinner for a bear, I’ll take La Stagione Frankfurt’s warm and inviting inn any day of the week.
If you missed the earlier volumes in this series, they’re still available and waiting for you at Amazon and ArkivMusic, but you needn’t acquire them in order. There’s no reason not to start right here with this one, which I recommend you do post-haste.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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