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Len Mullenger:

The Best of Telemann
Various artists.
Naxos 8.556689 [DDD] [71'07]

Naxos obviously think that Telemann's talents lay in the instrumental field as there is not a single vocal item on this disc. This, coupled with some variable performance standards, is a great shame. Should anyone use this disc as an introduction to one of the most prolific composers that ever lived, they might well come away with all the wrong impressions.

As Naxos has decided to take a couple of movements of a concerto here, part of a suite there, the effect is far too fragmentary. So: We start with four movements (out of seven) of the Recorder Suite in A minor (TWV numbers would be too much to ask), complete with archetypal, tinkly harpsichord of old in the background (Jiri Stivin with the Capella Istropolitana). This starts the trend of pieces that do not show off Telemann's experimental (or even inventive) side. Only in the Quartet in G from Tafelmusik I is there any hint of Telemann's textural ingenuity. American Baroque provide a nice interlude at the half -way point with two movements from a Sonata for two flutes.

The highlight, without doubt, is the Trumpet Concerto in D. Niklas Eklund is the sparkling soloist who keeps rhythms crisp and bright. Against the odds, he also manages to be lyrical in the cruelly high Adagio first movement. The Northern Chamber Orchestra under Nicholas Ward continues the happy mood with five movements from the suite, La changeante.

Telemann is, I believe, underestimated to this day. Unfortunately this disc will do little to remedy the situation.


Colin Clarke



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