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Telemann: Cantatas / Schmithüsen, Mertens, Et Al


Release Date: 01/16/2007 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93095   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid SchmithüsenKlaus Mertens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



TELEMANN Unbegreiflich ist dein Wesen. 1 Auf ehernen Mauern. 1 Was ist mir doch das Rühmen. 1 Schmeck und sehet. 1 Durchsuche dich. 1 Glaubet, hoffet. 1 Triumphierender Versöhner. 2 Weg mit Sodom’s gift’gen Früchten. Read more class="SUPER12">2 Ihr Völker, hört. 2 Stille die Tränen. 2 Ergeuss dich zur Salbung. 2 Zischet nur, stechet 2 Ingrid Schmithüsen (sop); 1 Klaus Mertens (bs); 2 Il Concertino Köln (period instruments) BRILLIANT 93095 (2 CDs: 132:59 & , no translation)


Fanfare 30:3 included a detailed introduction to Telemann’s Harmonischer Gottesdienst , a collection of sacred chamber cantatas published by the composer in 1725–26. Interested readers are referred back to those notes, occasioned by a review of the first installment of what is planned by Toccata as a complete recording of all 72 of these brief cantatas. The present two-disc set of a cross section of the cantatas is not new, but a reissue of recordings originally made in 1990 for Bayer. As is customary with Brilliant, documentation is sparse, although the original German texts are provided. While appreciating that the company is a no-frills bargain set up, it would have been helpful, and not a lot of trouble, to provide TWV numbers.


Originally intended for domestic devotions rather than liturgical use, the cantatas of Harmonischer Gottesdienst call for a solo singer with the accompaniment of a melody instrument and continuo. I felt it a weakness of the Toccata disc that the performances used a recorder throughout, thus ignoring the wide options that Telemann gave. Here that range is recognized, with violin, recorder, flute, and oboe all employed, thus providing a greater range of color and sonority to an obbligato role that varies from simple doubling of the vocal line to elaborately independent concertante writing. The choice of cantatas ranges over the church year, with works extending from Trinity to Pentecost.


Both singers, Klaus Mertens in particular, are experienced practitioners of German Baroque sacred repertoire, and it would have been surprising had they produced less than very good performances. And so it proves, although it is Mertens’s disc that is overall the more satisfying, not only because he projects the cantatas more strongly, but also because he has selected a particularly rewarding group of works given livelier, more ambient sound than the rather close recording accorded Schmithüsen’s disc. Not that there is much wrong with her bright, well-produced singing other than a tendency to sound tentative in the upper register, and the odd uncomfortable moment such as the final aria of Auf ehernen Mauern , with its rapid declamation and awkward rhythm. Despite their modest purpose it would in fact be quite wrong to think that Telemann made concessions to amateur domesticity, since although clarity of text is clearly the principal objective, many arias make considerable demands on their singer. Among those in Schmithüsen’s cantatas, the remarkable “Folternde Rache” (“Vengeful torture”) (from Schmeck und sehet ) stands out in this respect, its driving rhythms and tortured chromaticism twisted into ever-greater declamatory intensity.


All six of the cantatas sung by Mertens are strongly rhetorical works encompassing the contrasts that are such a feature of both the texts and music of Harmonischer Gottesdienst, and all include at least one memorable aria. In the case of the two Pentecost cantatas, Ergeuss dich and Zischet nur , Telemann provided music of exceptional quality throughout. The opening aria of the latter, “Zischet nur, stechet, ihr feurigen Zunge” (“Hiss, sting, you fiery tongues”) takes the flickering tongues of fire visited on the disciples as a departure for an agitated aria of fury in which Telemann takes full onomatopoeic advantage of the “hissing” and “stinging,” a conceit splendidly realized by Mertens. The pictorial words of the opening aria of Ergeuss dich , which speak of the “languishing soul” are set to a weary, heavily marked melody later borrowed by Handel for his coronation anthem My heart is inditing , one of a number of instances where he raided his friend Telemann’s publication. The final aria of the same cantata brings a particularly striking example of the vivid contrasts with which these pieces abound, the slow, sepulchral opening (“Black spirit of darkness”) immediately dispelled by the fleet–footed command, “flee and remove yourself from here!”


As these illustrations show, to appreciate these cantatas fully requires an understanding of the text. The lack here is certainly a deterrent, but given the high quality of the performances and the very low asking price, I hope readers will investigate this set. And even if you don’t understand German, you will get some general idea of the theme of each cantata by going to the appropriate Biblical text for the day, which is cited in the booklet.


FANFARE: Brian Robins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Unbegreiflich ist dein Wesen, TV 1 no 1745 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Holy Cross Church, Klasmühle, Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: German 
2.
Auf ehernen Mauern, TV 1 no 96 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Holy Cross Church, Klasmühle, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: German 
3.
Was ist mir doch das Rühmen nütze, TV 1 no 1521 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Holy Cross Church, Klasmühle, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: German 
4.
Schmeckt und sehet unser Gottes Freundlichkeit, TV 1 no 1252 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Holy Cross Church, Klasmühle, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Language: German 
5.
Durchsuche dich, du stolzer Geist, TV 1 no 399 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Holy Cross Church, Klasmühle, Germany 
Length: 12 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: German 
6.
Glaubet, hoffet, leidet, duldet, TV 1 no 626 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Holy Cross Church, Klasmühle, Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: German 
7.
Triumphierender Versöhner, TV 1 no 1422 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Language: German 
8.
Weg mit Sodoms gift'gen Früchten, TV 1 no 1534 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: German 
9.
Ihr Völker, hört, TV 1 no 921 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany 
Length: 12 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: German 
10.
Stille die Tränen des winselnden Armen, TV 1 no 1401 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: German 
11.
Ergeuss dich zur Salbung der schmachtenden Seele, TV 1 no 447 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany 
Length: 13 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: German 
12.
Zischet nur, stechet, ihr feurigen Zungen, TV 1 no 1732 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Concertino Köln
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: German 

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