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Telemann: Germanicus / Scholl, Rexroth, Bohm, Berndt, Schwarz

Telemann / Stahn / Scholl / Rexroth / Sack
Release Date: 01/31/2012 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777602  
Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Elisabeth SchollAlbrecht SackMatthias RexrothHenryk Böhm,   ... 
Conductor:  Gotthold Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saxon Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The opera house in Leipzig was built in 1692 and in 1700, under the auspices of the court of Augustus the Strong in Dresden, it became something of a training institution for Leipzig students. Graduates included David Heinichen, Johann Friedrich Fasch, Johann Georg Pisendel, Gottfried Heinrich Stolzel and Georg Philipp Telemann. The house closed in 1720 and a chapter in German musical history was forgotten.
 
Quite what the students actually got up to in the theatre is difficult to reconstruct nowadays. Librettos exist, in part or
Read more in full, from 74 operas performed in Leipzig between 1692 and 1720, but few complete musical scores. Regarding Telemann’s own contribution, he claimed to have written 20 operas for Leipzig but we can only identify the names of around a third. He spent the years 1701 to 1705 in Leipzig, so if his total is true, he must have been highly industrious.
 
One problem with the modern acceptance of Telemann’s music is surely the sheer profusion; he wrote far more cantatas than Bach. It means that there is no single place to grab hold of Telemann, especially as his fecundity means that people have a tendency to suspect that if he wrote so much music, then it must be of a generally uniformly unsatisfactory quality. Thankfully this is beginning to change; this recording of a new reconstruction of Telemann’s opera Germanicus was made in association with the Magdeburger Telemann Festtage, a festival now held in Telemann’s birth place every two years.
 
Germanicus was written in 1704 for Leipzig and repeated two years later in Hamburg at the instigation of Gottfried Grunewald who sang the title role in the 1704 performance. Then in 1710 it was presented again in Leipzig. For this occasion Telemann re-worked the piece and included a selection of arias in Italian as operas in a mix of German and Italian had become the fashion.
 
Unfortunately the Hamburg performance under Grunewald’s auspices seems to have resulted in the opera being attributed to him; so that the surviving selection of arias from the opera was filed away under Grunewald’s name. Recent scholarship has elucidated things, partly because the libretto by Dorothea Lachs was so well appreciated on its own. Now scholars affirm that the surviving arias are from Germanicus by Telemann and Lachs.
 
The whole opera does not survive: only forty arias and duets from a total of fifty-three. To make the work viable Michael Maul has produced an edition which adds other arias from Telemann and his contemporaries. More significantly Telemann’s recitatives have not survived either. Here Maul has supplied a spoken narration with some elements of spoken dialogue. In his note about the re-construction Maul describes the result as a Singspiel. The narrator, Dieter Bellman, plays a major part and most of the characters say little or nothing.
 
We should be grateful to Maul and to Gotthold Schwarz and his forces for providing us with the opportunity to hear the young Telemann in operatic mode.
 
The opera deals with the Roman general Germanicus (Henryk Bohm), his wife Agrippina (Elisabeth Scholl) and their son Caligula (Friedrich Praetorius). It opens with Germanicus’s victory over his enemy Arminius (Tobias Berndt) who is believed dead. In fact Arminius attempts to abduct the virtuous Agrippina. In his turn Arminius is captured by the Roman general Florus (Matthias Rexroth) who is plotting to gain the imperial throne - Germanicus is next in line.
 
Arminius escapes, Agrippina is falsely accused of being in love with Florus, whose attempt to assassinate Germanicus results in Agrippina being ordered to be executed. Separately there is a misunderstanding between Claudia (Olivia Stahn), daughter of a prince, and Arminius. Arminius and Claudia are in love but Claudia is promised to Lucius. All gets complicated and there is an earthquake and the appearance of a spirit; ultimately all ends happily.
 
Listening to it now, it is hard to get too worked up about the opera and the characters. What we can appreciate is the variety and vivacity of the music of the young Telemann. The arias are all short, generally around three minutes. The strongest and biggest role is that of Agrippina who is able to go through the full gamut of emotions thanks to the machinations of the libretto. That’s what the libretto was for; not to provide logic, but to put the noble characters through a series of emotional wringers, enabling the composer to display his major characters in a great variety of affekts.
 
Elisabeth Scholl gives full vent to Agrippina’s emotions but is rather inclined to be unstable - dare I say squally - in the upper register. In this she is matched by Matthias Rexroth, who sings both Florus and Lucius; I’m afraid that I did not warm to his voice either. The remaining cast members are creditable and highly listenable and give fine performances of Telemann’s fascinating music, without ever quite digging into the drama. It is unfortunate that Agrippina’s big Act 3 scene where she is about to go to her death has to be presented in music by Melchior Hoffmann as Telemann’s original does not survive.
 
In the presentation of the drama, the singers are hampered by the format. The vast bulk of the narrative is borne by Dieter Bellman whose spoken tones are that of a radio announcer rather than a lively narrator. Frankly, I find that he kills the drama stone dead and I would vastly have preferred to have had the arias on their own. That way you could listen to Telemann’s lively and involving music and let it speak for itself.
 
Gotthold Schwarz and the Sachisches Barockorchester provide strong support and the orchestra gives involving performances of the overture and the interpolated dance movements.
 
The CD booklet includes a long article about the origins of the opera, notes from Michael Maul about the reconstruction, artist biographies, detailed synopsis and the text and translations of the arias. What we don’t have is the text of the spoken narrations, so those people who cannot follow spoken German will remain mystified as to the exact nature of the dramatic goings-on.
 
This is an important set, one which helps shed light on the young Telemann’s dramatic music. No-one would say that Germanicus is a complete masterpiece but it includes some fascinating and entrancing music. Unhappily Telemann’s music is somewhat constrained by the performances and by the use of spoken narration. Lovers of Telemann’s music will want this set, but I don’t think that it is the last word in performances of this opera.  

-- Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International  Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Germanicus by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Elisabeth Scholl (Soprano), Albrecht Sack (Tenor), Matthias Rexroth (Countertenor),
Henryk Böhm (Baritone), Tobias Berndt (Bass), Dieter Bellmann (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Gotthold Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saxon Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 

Sound Samples

Germanicus: Overture
Germanicus: Act I: Entree
Germanicus: Act I: Wir schreiben das Jahr 16
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Grosser Feldherr, Heil und Wonne (Segestes)
Germanicus: Act I: ergreift das Wort
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Dieses Herz ist nicht fur dich (Claudia)
Germanicus: Act I: Ach grausamer (Lucius)
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Ho risolto d'adoravi (Lucius)
Germanicus: Act I: Unweit von Koln geht es weniger prachtig zu
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Piante voi, ch'in lido ameno (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act I: Wharend Agrippina uber das schlachtfeld irrt
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Tranquillatevi pensieri (Arminius)
Germanicus: Act I: Aber wen sieht Arminius?
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Sei standhaft, armes Herz (Arminius)
Germanicus: Act I: Agrippina ist noch immer ausser sich
Germanicus: Act I: Bald hoff' ich zu sehen (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act I: Einstweilen muss Agrippina damit begnugen
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Wer da hoffet zu geniessen (Florus)
Germanicus: Act I: Tags darauf treffen Agrippina und Florus in Koln ein
Germanicus: Act I: Passepied
Germanicus: Act I: Am Abend sind Agrippina und
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Sei zufrieden, schonstre Seele ()
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Rimembranza crudel (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act I: In einem hohen Turm vor den Toren der Stadt
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: A Lescosse di fortuna (Arminius)
Germanicus: Act I: Aber interessant: Jetzt taucht Claudia auf
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Amor, hilf mir uberwinden (Claudia)
Germanicus: Act I: Arminius reibt sich die Augen
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Kommet nur, ihr heissen Flammen (Arminius)
Germanicus: Act I: Der vom Russ der Flammen gezeichnete Arminius
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: No lacci crudeli (Claudia)
Germanicus: Act I: Lucius ist verwirrt von der Szenerie
Germanicus: Act I: Aria: Lass mich doch Mitleid erlangen (Lucius)
Germanicus: Act I: Bouree
Germanicus: Act II: Am nachsten Morgen spaziert Florus
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Arditi pensieri (Florus)
Germanicus: Act II: Agrippina lauft ebenfalls durch den Garten
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Son troppo tenaci (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act II: Agrippina und Florus reden nun miteinander
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Gelosia, ti sento al core ()
Germanicus: Act II: Werter Vater, gehst du fort? (Caligula)
Germanicus: Act II: An einem anderen Ort steht der Furst Segestes
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Mein Herze ist voll Grimm und Wut (Segestes)
Germanicus: Act II: Die noch immer als Soldat verkleidete Claudia
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Mein susser Trost (Lucius, Claudia)
Germanicus: Act II: Am Abend findet sich Agrippina
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Susse Hoffnung, wenn ich frage (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act II: Jetzt erscheint Lesbus
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Komm, o Schlaf (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act II: Doch nun geschieht etwas Schreckliches
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Mein Herz kennt kein Mitleid mehr ()
Germanicus: Act II: Szenenwechsel
Germanicus: Act II: Duet: Wie glucklich ist die Brust (Claudia, Lucius)
Germanicus: Act II: Ach Grausame (Arminius)
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Wen Amors Pfeil getroffen (Arminius)
Germanicus: Act II: Nicht weit entfernt
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Voi ch'eterni in ciel (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act II: Doch welch ein Gluck
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Ich komme, shonste Augen (Agrippina)
Germanicus: Act II: Unterdessen unternimmt Claudia
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Si dissi di ligami (Claudia)
Germanicus: Act II: Arminius irrt unterdessen im Wald umher
Germanicus: Act II: Aria: Furien! (Arminius)

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