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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Complete Violin Concertos Volume 1

Violin Concerto in C major TWV 51;C2
Violin Concerto in G major TWV 51;G8
Violin Concerto in E minor TWV 51;E3
Violin Concerto in D major TWV 51;D9
Violin Concerto in E major TWV 51;E2
Violin Concerto in F major TWV 51;F2
Violin Concerto in D major TWV 51;D10
L’Orfeo Barockorchester
Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin and director)
Recorded Sendesaal des SWR Studios Karlsruhe, September 2002
CPO 999 900-2 [59.21]
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Don’t expect Telemann’s Violin Concertos to match the Viola Concerto in lyric generosity or sheer memorability. He composed at least twenty violin concertos for his own use (he was a noted multi-instrumentalist), the earliest dating from c1707-08. They adhere to his usual Franco-Italian models, though are constructed with such cleverness and authority, and technical understanding, that the Corellian, Vivaldian and French elements are, if not absorbed into the bloodstream, at least present without sounding to be pastiche.

The seven concertos in CPO’s first volume divide roughly evenly between three and four movement concertos. The C major is steeped in that noble and stately delicacy of which Telemann was an exemplar in music. The string and wind lines are well delineated in this performance (L’Orfeo Barockorchester is made up 7-2-2-1) and the occasional novelties of texture and sound are best heard in the Allegro where the hurdy gurdy imitations are captivatingly done – not overdone either. Throughout this concerto the solo violin remains primus inter pares, emerging from the orchestral texture for ritornello moments, rather than explicitly lyric ones. The little three-movement G major is notable for delicate pianissimo in the slow movement – very affecting – and a brisk and cogently argued finale. The E minor drinks deeply and unashamedly from Vivaldi’s near inexhaustible well but the D major TWV 51;D9 strikes a richer, more personalised stance. Here the delicate and ingratiating Francophile opening (con contento) is followed by a ritornello-rich Allegro with decorative figuration for the soloist. The heart of the affair is the affecting slow movement – but one in which the soloist isn’t spotlit lyrically; rather the solo line emerges from the orchestral texture with perfect judgement.

The E major displays all Telemann’s most laudable characteristics; ingenious orchestral sonority, a sense of musical balance and harmonic invention. Formality is met by lyrical invention - and the solo violin is supported by discreet string and wind writing. The F major sports a very Handelian Presto finale and the disc ends with the little D major, TWV 51: D10, a brisk Corellian work that pays due homage to its older models and flaunts a hilarious sliver of a portentous Adagio (all forty-one seconds of it).

Performances, as intimated, are characterful and full of finesse. There are no virtuoso demands placed on Wallfisch’s technique but the solo/ritornello interplay is well calibrated and well caught by CPO’s engineers and the notes are rightfully admiring of Telemann’s skill and moments of quixotic colour.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Kevin Sutton

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