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Telemann: Die Tageszeiten / Naf, Mauch, Romberger, Mammel

Telemann / Madrigalisten / L'arpa Festante / Naf
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Carus   Catalog #: 83439   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Gerhild RombergerMonika MauchHans Jörg MammelGotthold Schwarz
Conductor:  Fritz Naf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel MadrigalistsL'Arpa Festante
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Full of surprises, depth and energy, this CD is a delight.

To listen to the opening of Telemann's Die Tageszeiten (Times of Day) is to be thrust into a world as apparently alien to its times as that at the opening of Haydn's Seasons. Threatening, full of unusual orchestral colour, the 'Symphony' - an overture lasting longer - over seven minutes - than any other of the numbers in the work - sets the scene (Dawn) for something you'd be hard put to attribute to Telemann.

The sheer volume of his output (along with that of Liszt) is often cited. Alongside this should go its variety. Admittedly a late work (the first performance of Die Tageszeiten was in 1757), it has passages which
Read more could certainly be taken for Vivaldi, Mozart or even early Beethoven. Die Tageszeiten is actually four solo cantatas with concluding choruses; each is sung by a different voice… Morning soprano, Noon alto, Evening tenor and Night bass. Similarly, each cantata has corresponding orchestral colour… the addition of a trumpet, viola da gamba, flutes and oboes and bassoon respectively.

None of this is in any way contrived, fey or self-conscious. Such are Telemann's powers of capitalising on his inspiration that the whole has a quality of inevitability. This is aided by a length for each cantata (roughly ten minutes) that makes it less like a tone poem; more compact and economical settings - of nature poetry, by Brockes and Klopstock. The actual libretto is by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachariae, 1726-1777. One feels that Telemann is urging us to understand his reactions to the way the sun progresses across the sky, rather than providing an extra audience for the poetry. Näf is well in tune with that approach. There is a withdrawn feel to the music-making. Though nothing is held back.

Nun danket alle Gott is a much earlier sacred work to entirely Biblical texts (Ecclesiastics). Despite not drawing on otherwise adapted verse, Telemann makes of this a special work with its own character; indeed, each of the four movements (two choral, a duet and an aria) has its own appeal and flavour.

Were the performers merely 'adequate' for the music, this would be an intriguing release. But they have an attack, a briskness and a sensitivity that add immense value to our appreciation of these interesting works. Their tempi truly do support the feeling of the passing day. And not in any gauche way. The singers are fully conversant with the idiom in general, and with Telemann's implementation in particular. Mammel's tenor should be singled out as particularly persuasive. Though the other singers and instrumentalists under Fritz Näf are entirely convincing and offer much on repeated listening: they somehow confer a naturalness and relaxed familiarity, without sacrificing any of the novelty (in the best sense of the word) of Telemann's insight into how music, particularly voice and orchestra, can be made to serve a defined, precise yet very open idea - something we all experience: the passage of each day.

There is only one other recording in the current catalogue. And it's of the Tageszeiten only, so is a shorter CD. It's by soloists and the Freiburg Collegium Musicum under Wolfgang Schäfer on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (77422). This excellently-recorded and presented Carus release - which comes with useful notes and the texts in German and English - is so lively, is the fruit of such a distinctive conception, and is bursting with sufficient expressive force that it must take its place as a very welcome addition - not only to the work of elevating Telemann's stature, but also as providing a new, fresh and satisfying musical experience.

-- Mark Sealey, MusicWeb International

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Telemann used to be much maligned; it was believed that he wrote too much. As it turns out, his average was pretty high: most of what he composed is worth hearing (about 800 works survive; he may have composed as many as 3000). Die Tageszeiten (The Times of Day) is actually four cantatas, each short (between nine and 14 minutes long), each describing, yes, a time of day (Morning, Midday, Evening, Night). An aria describes the feeling of each time, a recit goes into specific details of nature, a second aria acknowledges He who created such a phenomenon, and a brief chorus of praise ends each cantata. There is a Sinfonie at the start of the series that sets the tone. Using only strings, we go from darkness into light--perhaps not as dramatically as Haydn or Rebel take us, but with great ease and charm.

As you might guess, the cantatas travel from soprano to bass, with stops along the way for alto and tenor, as the day goes on. But the orchestration changes as well: morning gets a trumpet, midday gets a viola da gamba, evening has a pair of flutes (fresh dew and angels are in the text), and the bass voice, for night, is backed by a pair of oboes and a bassoon. All of the soloists are good, with Monica Mauch's girlish, vibrato-free soprano and Hans Jörg Mammel's warm tenor particularly appealing. A 10-minute cantata, Nun danket alle Gott, rounds out the CD. It uses all the soloists and the chorus and is a delightful hymn of thanks.

Fritz Näf, a name new to me, leads with such grace and understatement that we are left with a warm feeling and nothing but admiration for the instrumental group and chorus as well. This may not send chills down anyone's spine, but it is a sheer pleasure. Another very good recording of Tageszeiten is to be found on DHM under Wolfgang Schäfer, but this one is ever finer--and it has the bonus of the early Biblical-text cantata.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die Tageszeiten, TV 20 no 39 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Gerhild Romberger (Alto), Monika Mauch (Soprano), Hans Jörg Mammel (Tenor),
Gotthold Schwarz (Bass)
Conductor:  Fritz Naf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Madrigalists,  L'Arpa Festante
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1757; Hamburg, Germany 
2.
Nun danket alle Gott, TV 1 no 1166 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Gerhild Romberger (Alto), Monika Mauch (Soprano), Hans Jörg Mammel (Tenor),
Gotthold Schwarz (Bass)
Conductor:  Fritz Naf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Madrigalists,  L'Arpa Festante
Period: Baroque 

Sound Samples

Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Sinfonie
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: Der Morgen kommt, mit ihm die Freude (Soprano)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Recitative: Der Ganze Himmel schwimmt im Glanz (Soprano)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: Allmachtger, gross im Sonnenglanz (Soprano)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Willkommen, holdseliger Morgen! (Chorus)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: Der Mittag, begleitet von falchenden (Alto)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Recitative: Empfange mich, ehrwurdger Eichenwald! (Alto)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: Lass mich die susse Wollust fuhlen (Alto)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Auf, folget dem feurigen Wagen der Sonne (Chorus)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: Senke dich von Purpurwolken (Tenor)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Recitative: Der Wald steht dunkelgrun (Tenor)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: Komm, holder schlaf! (Tenor)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Vom Aufgang bis zum Niedergang (Chorus)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: O Nacht, und du, geweihte Stille! (Bass)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Recitative: Sie kommt, ihr helles Sternenkleid (Bass)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Aria: Wie wird des Grabes Nacht entweichen (Bass)
Die Tageszeiten, TWV 20:39: Der Herr ist Gott, ein Gott von Ehren (Chorus)
Nun danket alle Gott, TWV 1:1166: Nun danket alle Gott (Chorus)
Nun danket alle Gott, TWV 1:1166: Duet: Der uns von Mutterleibe (Tenor, Bass)
Nun danket alle Gott, TWV 1:1166: Aria: Er gebe uns ein frohliches Herz (Alto)
Nun danket alle Gott, TWV 1:1166: Auf dass seine Gnade (Chorus)

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