Telemann was a prolific composer, writing over 40 Passions (musical compositions reflecting on the final days of Jesus’ life) for the Church of Hamburg alone. His Passion oratorios, of which he wrote six, differ in that they do not strictly adhere to the literal text of the Gospels, instead making use of literary and operatic techniques.
Indeed, in the case of Das selige Erwa?gen des bittern Leidens und Sterbens Jesu Christi (written around 1722), Telemann took it upon himself to write the libretto, and his status as one of the most famous opera composers of his time is clearly demonstrated in the quality of his orchestral writing and text expression, beautifully performed here by the Freiburger Vokal-Ensemble and L’ArpaRead more Festante Mu?nchen.
A delightful work that deserves to be heard more often, Das selige Erwa?gen was in its time one of Telemann’s most popular and frequently performed compositions. Brilliant Classics’ recording of this Passion oratorio is the perfect starting-point to explore the rich landscape that 18th-century German music drama has to offer, and sheds light on the choral works of a composer primarily known today as a writer of instrumental music.
• Booklet notes included.
• Part of the Musica Sacra series.
R E V I E W:
TELEMANN Passion Oratorio • Wolfgang Schäfer, cond; Barbara Locher (sop); Zeger Vandersteene, Stefan Dörr (ten); Berthold Possemeyer, Johan-René Schmidt (bar); Freiberger Vocal Ens; L’Arpa Festante Munich • BRILLIANT 94318 (2 CDs: 111:44 Text and Translation)
Originally issued by Bayer Records in 1994, this recording was first licensed and reissued by Brilliant Classics in 2003, and now appears in that label’s Musica Sacra series. While neither release includes the libretto that graced the original Bayer set (now long out of print), this one at least offers a small separate booklet with a brief introductory essay, unlike its totally bare-bones predecessor. Given that this remains the only recording the work has received, that omission is a significant drawback; however, the text is an adaptation of the Brockes Passion, so if you have a libretto of that from a recording of the Handel oratorio, you can more or less keep up with the action here, even though the words are not always the same.
In contrast to the Bach passions, the libretto is not taken from the Gospel text with interspersed reflections, but consists entirely of poetic strophes reflecting the various characters’ thoughts and feelings. Consequently there is no separate role of an Evangelist, and Jesus has several arias of his own. In addition to the historical characters of Jesus, Peter, and Caiaphas, there are the allegorical ones of Andacht (Devotion), Glaube (Faith), and Zion. There are considerably more recitative-aria couplings for the various soloists and a reduced role for the chorus, and the arias are shorter.
Thankfully, this is quite a good recording overall, if not absolutely stellar. Fortunately the singer with the largest role, Berthold Possemeyer as Jesus, is also the strongest soloist, singing with expressiveness and authority, though his coloratura technique is not ideally smooth. Soprano Barbara Locher performs a vocal hat trick as Andacht, Glaube, and Zion; while her voice lacks an ideal degree of sweetness, she negotiates the fioratura passages in her arias with aplomb. Of the two tenors, Zeger Vandersteene as a second Andacht has the more attractive timbre than does Stefan Dörr as Peter, though the latter is certainly competent. Johan René Schmidt as Caiaphas is suitably potent and malignant. Wolfgang Schäfer leads an intelligently conceived performance, though occasionally there is a bit of the heaviness that one associates with the older school of Bach interpretation personified by Karl Richter. The members of L’Arpa Festante play their period instruments with dispatch, and the Freiburg Vocal Ensemble worthily partners it. The recorded acoustic is a touch on the reverberant side, but pleasingly so. If Telemann’s lighter, more Francophilic style of sacred music appeals to your musical palette, by all means acquire this recording at its super-budget price.
Selige Erwägen des Leidens und sterbens Jesu Christi, TV 5 no 2by Georg Philipp Telemann Performer:
Johan-René Schmidt (Baritone),
Berthold Possemeyer (Baritone),
Stefan Dörr (Tenor),
Barbara Locher (Soprano),
Zeger Vandersteene (Tenor)
Freiburg Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque Written: 1720/1722; Hamburg, Germany Date of Recording: 2003 Language: German
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Very nice performances...July 12, 2012By Clifford H C. (Thompson, MB)See All My Reviews"Telemann: Passions Oratorium Selige Erwägen des Leidens und sterbens Jesu Christi, TV 5 no 2A Of Telemanns many Passions, this ranks as one of the nicest. There is some remarkable music written for a small ensemble and choir. Telemann makes excellent use of the small resources at his disposal and bringing out the real colours available. The performances by L'Arpa Festante and Freiburg Vocal Ensemble are excellent and well paced. The soloists are also excellent. My one pet peeve about this recording is the lack of Libretto. Yes... this may be a budget recording but they could at least make the word books available online as a PDF file. This would cost the record companies very little and would enhance my enjoyment of the recording. I now have three Telemann Passions without the Librettos and it is a little frustrating."Report Abuse
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