Notes and Editorial Reviews
In short, this is a winner... the consistently elevated level of artistry and, perhaps above all, the spirit in which Telemann’s anthology has been brought to life make it an irresistible choice.
“The cow, but stay! no, no, the she-goat bowed down her horns to the earth and begged the lion to be her lifetime’s mate; the lion well knew how false the she-goat was, pretended to be dumb, took a pinch of snuff and paid no heed to her; until the she-goat piteously cried out: O merciful Lord lion! I’ll be forever true. The lion said: No! The she-goat cried: Ye Gods! is there then no saviour? The lion said: I trust thee not; and then his lordship took his watch which he looked at and said: Take thyself off! the hour has struck
and I must post my mail.”
Such is the stuff Telemann’s unique anthology Der getreue Music-Meister is made of: fable by Aesop, text by Mattheson, music by Telemann. Ironically, this entertaining setting contains in its depictive, onomatopoeic passages an aspect of Telemann’s art which the testy, irascible Mattheson deplored. But it little matters what he thought since the piece from Telemann’s opera Aesopus is a gem of absolute enchantment, as is much else in the collection.
Telemann launched what is generally accepted as the first musical periodical in Hamburg in 1728. It ran to 25 instalments, or ‘lessons’ as he called them, which he issued fortnightly between November 1728 and November 1729. This was all pioneering stuff in the 1720s, as indeed it was in 1967 when Archiv bravely issued a box of five LPs to mark the two-hundredth anniversary of the composer’s death. Telemann probably intended his Getreue Music-Meister as an amateur musician’s vade-mecum and, with characteristic flair, included idiomatically written pieces in a wide variety of forms for voice and virtually every instrument then in current use. The result is a rich and extraordinarily colourful compendium in which Telemann’s own encyclopaedic learning in many different areas is reflected.
This musical bran-tub probably has at least one item of interest for every single reader of Gramophone. For some, it contains a great deal more than that. The set is not quite as complete as its rival, much more recent account by Cologne Camerata; but it is in about every respect far more entertaining, even if its period-instrument credentials are not quite so squeaky clean as those of the Cologne group. This was 1967, after all, when the ‘early music’ revival was in its infancy. In fact little or nothing of real significance is missing but the real gain in the Archiv set is the spirited and characterful contribution of the singers. The aforementioned Fable is sung with consummate artistry by Gerhard Unger, while Edith Mathis, athletically accompanied by Sebastian Kelber’s dazzling descant recorder obbligato, gives a scintillating performance of “Piu del fiume”, another da capo aria from the opera Aesopus, this one with a particularly well-contrasted middle section. Other delights include a “Carillon” for two chalumeaux – for which, unforgivably, two recorders have been substituted in the Cologne version – a fine Oboe Sonata in A minor, several free-standing secular songs of a kind which had become popular with the new, leisured, culture-loving Hamburg middle-class, and a wealth of pieces for solo instruments and small ensembles. Among the most impressive of the latter is the trio sonata or “Introduzione” with which Telemann launched the project, here played in its proper key of C major rather than in the inexplicably transposed key of A major which is preferred in the newer recording.
In short, this is a winner. Not everything, of course, is done as we should set about it today, but the consistently elevated level of artistry and, perhaps above all, the spirit in which Telemann’s anthology has been brought to life make it an irresistible choice. Exploration of record company vaults is usually to be welcomed, but doubly so when it is done with such discernment as this. Highly recommended.'
Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone (4,1996)
Works on This Recording
Getreue Music-Meister by Georg Philipp Telemann
Barry McDaniel (Baritone),
Edith Mathis (Soprano),
Hertha Töpper (Mezzo Soprano),
Gerhard Unger (Tenor),
Ernst Haefliger (Tenor),
Rosemarie Sommer (Alto),
Hartmut Hein (Baritone)
Würzburg Instrumental Ensemble,
Würzburg Bach Choir
Written: by 1728; Germany
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