Notes and Editorial Reviews
Here is a delightful potpourri CD of Telemann orchestral music from a Baroque orchestra based in Basel, Switzerland. It turns out that the group has been around since 1999, although it’s the first time I’ve heard it, or even heard of it. This is not its first CD either, nor is it the first CD to be reviewed by Fanfare—that honor goes to a disc of concertos by Richard Mudge, favorably reviewed by Michael Carter in 33:3. Oh well—better late than never.
With the music of Telemann, performers run the risk of overexposure. Telemann’s concertos, a relatively inconsequential part of his output, have been played and recorded to death. The orchestral overtures, on the other hand, can stand all the exposure they can get. The New Grove
has more than 130 entries in this category; not counting duplicates, ArkivMusic lists recordings for only about a quarter of them. Most of the overtures (or suites—the terms are interchangeable) still languish in manuscript form in a Darmstadt library, where they await a modern edition. Considering the exceptional quality of the music and the public’s insatiable appetite for Baroque instrumental music, it’s a wonder that more haven’t been committed to disc.
It should come as no surprise that the overtures in G Minor and B?-Major are the most substantial works on this CD. The latter is especially memorable; it includes several movements with characteristic titles such as “Les Turcs,” “Les Suisses” (how appropriate), and “Les Portugais,” and some weird effects not normally associated with the period such as portamenti. It was instructive to compare this group’s rendition of the G-Minor Suite with the classic version by the Vienna Concentus Musicus from the late ’70s. Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his musicians had a special affinity for Telemann’s music, but what strikes me is how much period-instrument technique has improved in the intervening years. The strings of the Basel group, numbering a healthy 5-4-4-2-2, are so much more polished and silky—and in tune. And wonder of wonders: They include an audible theorbo in the continuo group. Especially pleasing is the double-reed concertino of three oboes and bassoon. Their sprightly, sparkling sound is a prominent feature of the B-flat Overture—too bad that’s the only work on which they’re featured.
If you’re of the mindset that one can never have too many Telemann CDs, this one’s for you. Excellent sound—highly recommended.
--- Christopher Brodersen, FANFARE Read less
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Flute in E major, TV 51 no E 1 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Written: 1716-1725; Germany
Venue: Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche Alresheim
Length: 13 Minutes 18 Secs.
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