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Telemann: Das Befreite Israel / Hermann Max, Et Al

Release Date: 07/17/2001 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 999673   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus MertensIngrid SchmithüsenEkkehard AbeleHoward Crook,   ... 
Conductor:  Hermann Max
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rheinische KantoreiDas Kleine Konzert
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Given what we know today about Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann, most observers (including me) would argue that Bach was the superior composer. However, in their day it was Telemann who was more well known and highly esteemed, probably because more of Telemann's music was heard then than is heard now. Who's to say, for instance, which composer was the greater master of the sacred cantata form if we're very familiar with Bach's extant 188 and know next to nothing of Telemann's 1,410? Who knows if the grandeur of Telemann's TWV 953 eclipses that of BWV 140? Bach certainly regarded Telemann as an equal, if not a mentor. Many 18th-century musicians and theorists even believed Telemann to be the more progressive composer Read more regardless of their prolific differences. Were they out of step, or are we?

While CPO's new recording of Telemann's oratorio Das befreite Israel (the delivered Israel) doesn't change my mind as to which was the greater composer, it certainly narrows the gap. This is a grand work, a wonderfully inspired masterpiece on par with the best of Bach's vocal and instrumental efforts. Beginning the work is a glorious chorus whose striking melodic interplay with the brass and percussion sets the drama to follow (and given the subject matter, plenty of drama does!). Favorite moments include the alto aria "Da kam der Geist des Herrn mit heilgem Ungestüm" where the voice is set against an enchanting backdrop of fluttering bassoon, flute, and oboe trills. Equally powerful in contrast is the aria "Wir wollen sie erjagen" where both bass Ekkehard Abele and chorus effectively communicate impending slaughter, ruin, and death.

Telemann's lovely Overture in F serves as an intermezzo between Das befreite Israel and Der May, a setting for two voices of poetic texts by Karl Ramler. While a fine work in its own right, May unfortunately delivers little of the impact of its predecessor. Comprised mostly of lighthearted duets by soprano Ingrid Schmithüsen (Phillis) and bass Klaus Mertens (Daphnis), this "musicalische idylle" dallies along enumerating every conceivable virtue of the month of May for 17 pleasant though very long minutes. As usual with CPO, the sonics, notes, and overall presentation are first rate. A must for those already aware of the genius of this often underrated composer, and highly recommended to all others willing to reconsider their estimation of him.
--John Greene, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Das befreite Israel, TV 6 no 5 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano), Ekkehard Abele (Bass),
Howard Crook (Tenor), Claudia Schubert (Alto)
Conductor:  Hermann Max
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rheinische Kantorei,  Das Kleine Konzert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1759; Germany 
Language: German 
Der May, TV 20 no 40 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano), Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Hermann Max
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Das Kleine Konzert
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1760; Germany 
Language: German 
Overture-Suite for 2 Recorders, Strings and Basso continuo in F minor, TV 55 no f 1 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Conductor:  Hermann Max
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Das Kleine Konzert
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 

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