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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Excellent performances of Telemann

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)

Concerto in d minor for two horns, strings and continuo, TWV 52:D2 [8:01]
Concerto in e minor for transverse flute, recorder, strings and continuo, TWV 52:e1 [13:47}
Concerto in d minor for oboe, strings and continuo, TWV 51:d1 [8:03]
Concerto in g minor for recorder, two violins and continuo, TWV 43:g3 [12:53]
Concerto in E major for transverse flute, strings and continuo, TWV 51:E1 [12:17]

Ulrich Hübner and Jörg Schulteß (horns)
Michael Schneider, (recorder)

Karl Kaiser (transverse flute)

Luise Baumgartl (oboe)

La Stagione Frankfurt
Camerata Köln
Michael Schneider

Recorded in the Deutschlandrundfunk Kammermusiksaal, 2005-2006.

CPO 777032 [55:24]

In the day when trained musicians were expected to master a number of instruments, Georg Philipp Telemann exceeded expectations by not only mastering three (the harpsichord, recorder and violin) but by also becoming proficient on most of the other instruments in common use at the time. As a result of this vast skill set, he was able to compose concertos for a wide array of solo instruments and combinations thereof. The hallmark of his music is a respect for the idiom of each individual instrument that renders each work not only aurally pleasing, but also of immense satisfaction to the performer.

In an attempt to get away from the pervasive Italian style, Telemann adopted a four movement form that often followed the pattern of slow-fast-slow-fast. These slow openings drew the listener’s attention to the melodic line and away from the sheer displays of virtuosity that were the stock and trade of the Italian concerto. Telemann also preferred a more moderate display of the soloist’s technical skill, never allowing the intricacies of the solo line to overshadow the elegance and purpose of the music.

Michael Schneider leads his two ensembles in a perfectly elegant set of concertos for diverse instrumental combinations in this disc that brims with grace and charm. Beginning with an uplifting but never overwhelming work for two horns, Mssrs. Hübner and Schulteß bring off some of the finest valve-less horn playing to meet these ears in some time. Granted, more perfection can be achieved with these cantankerous instruments in the studio setting than in a live concert. But, this is playing of rarely heard skill and refinement.

The other standout is Luise Baumgartl’s sweet tone and graceful articulation in the concerto for oboe. She produces a light and unforced sound and has a fine knack for spinning out a long arched phrase. Mssrs. Schneider and Kaiser also turn in fine performances of works for recorder, flute and the combination thereof. The two ensembles both play most collegially, and balance, intonation and ensemble are of the first order.

There’s a work for every taste here and no lover of baroque music will be disappointed. Marked “Volume I” one can only salivate a bit for more if this fine disc is a harbinger of the entire series.

-Kevin Sutton

- refined elegance…well balanced playing by musicians who are obviously enjoying themselves.

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