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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Classic Collection

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767)
Oboe Concertos

Concerto in E minor for Oboe, Strings and basso continuo
Concerto in A major for Oboe d'amore, Strings and basso continuo
Concerto "Gratioso" in D major for Oboe, 2 Violins, Strings and basso continuo
Concerto in C minor for Oboe, Strings and basso continuo
Concerto in D minor for Oboe, Strings and basso continuo
Concerto in G major for Oboe d'amore, Strings and basso continuo
English Chamber Orchestra
Thomas Indermühle (oboe, director)
Licensed from AVC, Switzerland


Telemann wrote over a dozen concertos for solo oboe or solo oboe d'amore and string orchestra. His writing for the oboe is unfailingly rewarding, perhaps because of his own fluency on the instrument. Though he acknowledged a certain proficiency on the instrument if his writing is anything to go by he must have been no mean performer himself. Generally the oboe concertos are more interesting and more colourful than many of Telemann's other single instrument concertos. Perhaps because there are so relatively few of them, dull patches are rarer.

On this recording six concertos involving an oboe are played by Thomas Indermühle, who also directs the English Chamber Orchestra. Indermühle plays three oboe concertos, two oboe d'amore concertos and is joined by two unnamed violinists for a concerto for oboe and two violins. Indermühle is a Swiss oboist who studied with Heinz Holliger and Maurice Bourgue, spending several years as oboist with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic.

Indermühle's playing on this disc is most enjoyable, always stylish and shapely. He never makes you aware of the technical skill needed to play these tricky pieces. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy it. And there is much to enjoy. All the concertos on this disc follow the same pattern of four movements alternating slow and fast movements. The slow movements can mine that vein of melancholy at which the oboe is so apt. The fast movements usually involve snappy rhythms with many folk influences. Whereas Vivaldi's oboe concertos tend be all cast in a similar style, Telemann never fails to amaze with the variety of his imagination.

The E minor oboe concerto opens with a big string ritornello and develops into a very Handelian Adagio. This is followed by a furious, brilliant Allegro Molto in which Indermühle only pauses for breath in the short, contrasting B section. The Largo is a gracious movement, but the string accompaniment is rather stodgy. This carries over into the Allegro final, which is lively enough, but does lack sparkle.

This first movement of the D major concerto develops into a winning Gratioso, which is an apt name for the whole concerto. This movement leads into a rhythmic Allegro with an engaging galloping movement in the strings. The second Adagio is another poetic, melancholy movement. Unfortunately, in these performances the final Allegro lets the performance down as it comes over as rather too steady and ponderous.

The C minor oboe concerto opens with a sustained, uncompromising dissonance and the solo oboe is supported by restless strings. This haunting moment commands attention and your attention never wavers through the 4 movements. A gentle Allegro, with a rather pointed melody, follows and the simple second Adagio is followed by an Allegro final where the more robust moments contrast with quieter ones.

The D minor oboe concerto opens with another melancholy Adagio, a very powerful one which is followed by an infectious, perky Allegro. A short recitative leads to the lively Allegro with its thematic material based on running figures.

Both of the Oboe d'amore concertos are immensely seductive works. The A major concerto opens with a haunting Siciliano with a theme that has a certain harmonic restlessness. This is followed by a triumphant, showpiece aria-like movement. The Largo opens with dark brooding string chords; when the oboe d'amore enters it is accompanied just by the continuo instrument. The finale, marked Vivace, is a folk-like country dance. The G major concerto's opening movement is charmingly marked 'Soave' and is a gracious, minuet-like dance movement which is followed by another aria-like Allegro in which the soloist gets to display his facility for passage-work in a series of dialogues with the strings. In the Adagio, Indermühle spins beautiful, melancholic, long slow lines over a walking bass. For the finale, the strings provide another country-dance like figure over which the oboe d'amore cascades decorations.

The performances from the English Chamber Orchestra are responsive and generally stylish. Sometimes their bass lines err on the side of heaviness, but that is a matter of taste and styles in Baroque performance are always evolving.

This is a highly recommendable disc. If the idea of a whole disc devoted to oboe concertos by Telemann fills you with foreboding, then do consider this delightful, highly infectious disc.

Robert Hugill


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