Notes and Editorial Reviews
Sie verachten das Gesetz,
TWV 1: 1339;
Gott Zebaoth in deinem Namen,
Hermann Max, cond; Veronika Winter (sop); Lena Susanne Norin (alt); Jan Kobow (ten); Ekkehard Abele (bs); Rheinische Kantorei; Das Kleine Konzert (period instruments)
CPO 777 261 (51:51
Text and Translation)
Once more, the cantatas of Georg Philipp Telemann seem to be the focus of a cycle, one that no doubt will take several lifetimes to complete, given the gargantuan numbers of these pieces he wrote during his long life. This is the second volume of the series begun by Hermann Max and his veteran period group the Rheinische Kantorei/Kleine Konzert. And as one can see from the TWV number (that’s Telemann Werk Verzeichnis), the opening work is already No. 1541, but at least Max is not taking his cycle in numerical order.
The works chosen for this disc are each quite different, representing the different periods of Telemann’s compositional career. The earliest is
Gott Zebaoth in deinem Namen
, which was published in 1731 but retains an older style of the 1720s. Only two years later he published
for Easter. This is a more forward looking work that contains some rather advanced, almost
features. The latest work, from 1742 or thereabouts,
Sie verachten das Gesetz
, is downright modern (or at least as modern as the 1740s allow), with a da capo set of choruses bookending some interesting central chorales and arias. There is only one recitative here, and this comes smack in the middle of the work, yet doesn’t really lead into the aria that follows. The most festive cantata here is
with its trio of high clarion trumpets that appear throughout. After a flowing homophonic introduction, the next words of the text (“Siehe, es hat überwunden der Löwe” or “Behold, the Lion has triumphed”) are heralded by serious fanfares and powerful timpani strokes. In the aria that follows this introductory chorus, “Zürne nur,” the trumpet blares out a solo clarion sustained call, while the tenor has a rhythmically twisting line, no doubt mocking the “old serpent.” In the next aria, “Auf, auf, erlösete Seelen,” the fanfares enter in a powerful triadic ascent, the resurrection in music, followed by an impressively tortuous vocal line for the bass, including musical laughter (to the text “a, a, a” the inner vowel of “verlachen”). In the final concerted number, “Singt nicht dein Herz,” a solo trumpet accompanies a lyrical soprano line that has a curious second soprano echo (performed by Jenny Haecker). Even the continuo aria “Dictum: Er hat ausgezogen,” the central pivot of the cantata, has a modern lyrical feel, a slightly pointed dialogue between the continuo and alto solo.
The other two cantatas are in their own way equal musically, though it is hard to beat the power of three trumpets and timpani in the opening work. Still, Telemann seems to have fun with the opening chorus “Sie verachten das Gesetz,” in which the voices begin in strict dotted rhythms but then quickly “break the law” with sudden staccatos; a central chromatic unison introduces a more regular fugue. Out of nowhere comes the alto soloist in the first aria, “Jerusalem, du Gottestadt,” with a flowing lyrical theme, that the accompanying strings only reinforce and complement, but do not imitate. In the second aria, the realm of sin is a lively minuet. The third cantata opens with a curiously halting line by the oboes, but the music consists of a series of sequenced lines that is curiously very Telemann in his early years. In the second, the imitative lines spin out from each other, occasionally resulting in what appears to me to be a couple of parallel seconds, an unusual dissonance for any period outside the 20th century. This is hardly modern, but does give one pause due to the odd harmony. The chorus, “Habt ihr nicht lieb,” is a somewhat conventional piece of counterpoint, something Bach would have enjoyed.
The performances are, as one expects of Max and his ensembles, of the highest quality. Veronika Winter’s soprano is crystal clear, while Lena Norin has a rich, flexible alto. Tenor Jan Kobow and the versatile bass-baritone Ekkehard Abele are also right on pitch and perform their often tortuous lines with studied ease and skillful interpretation. Max’s ensemble is crystal clear, as are the voices of his chorus. All in all, this is yet another fabulous disc that points to Telemann as perhaps one of the greatest of his age. The only difficulty is that these were recorded way back in 2006, and so such a delay in the release is to be regretted. Still, this one should be in your collection.
FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
Works on This Recording
Weine nicht!, TV 1 no 1541 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Das Kleine Konzert
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