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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concertos and Chamber Music, Volume 1.

Sonata in F, TWV43:F1 [8’53].Concerto in C for Recorder, Two Violins, Viola and Basso Continuo, TWV51:C1 [16’30]. Overture in F sharp minor, TWV55:fis [18’45]. Quadro in G minor, TWV43:g4 [8’33]. Concerto in G for Viola Solo, Two Violins, Viola and Basso Continuo, TWV51:G9 [12’58].
Musica Alta Ripa (Danya Segal, recorder; Anne Röhring,Cosima Taubert, violins; Ursula Bundies, violin/viola; Christian Heidemann, viola; Juris Teichmanis, cello; Jacques van der Meer, double-bass; Ulrich Wedemeier, theorbo; Bernward Lohr, harpsichord).
Rec. Oranienburg Schloss, Nordkirchen, February 27th-28th; March 1st-2nd, 2003. DDD

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An important disc. The music of Georg Philipp Telemann both deserves and repays close attention and careful preparation. Dabringhaus und Grimm has done Telemann proud by presenting Musica Alpa Ripa’s performances in exemplary fashion, with wonderfully clear sound and commendably lucid booklet notes (from Ute Poetzch).

Poetzch’s notes trace Telemann’s involvement with chamber music. The five examples on the present disc make a nicely contrastive programme. The first piece to be aired, the F major Sonata, TWV43:F1, with its four movement slow-fast-slow-fast design, makes reference to the Italian Sonata da chiesa. It is beautifully constructed, but over and above this it is full of life and imagination. Musica Alta Ripa invokes the stasis of the opening Adagio brilliantly, following on with a jaunty Allegro that is the first occurrence on this disc of their infectious springing of rhythms. The recording has a slight tendency to crowd (it is also at a high level so some adjustment of the volume control may be necessary) but nevertheless this is thoroughly enjoyable fare.

The first of the two concerti is for recorder and chamber ensemble. Danya Segal is the soloist, playing completely within the style of the music. As with all of the pieces, precise dating is no easy matter (effectively informed guess-work), although the booklet notes put it sometime after 1725. The second movement (an Allegro) is pure delight, one of those moments where Telemann lets the sunlight in – this happy-go-lucky streak is deliberate, for the very next movement is an Andante characterised by bare, vibrato-free sonorities. This is an intimate utterance that is very, very expressive indeed (and which belies any accusations that Telemann is a composer who sits on the surface of emotions). Only in the finale is there a reservation about the standard of performance as our recordist almost comes unstuck with the difficult repeated notes.

The second concerto (and the piece that closes the disc) is a viola concerto, one of the earliest known concertos for that instrument. It was (possibly) written in Frankfurt before 1721. The restful Largo is played really tastefully (in that sense it epitomises the disc as a whole) – similarly, the soloist (Christoph Heidemann) is tenderly expressive in the third movement Andante. The joyous Presto finale is a lovely way to end the recital.

Which leaves an Overture and a Quadro. The Overture is the key of F sharp minor, a harmonic area that had taken on a very expressive affekt at this juncture in history and which is strongly associated with sadness. Its ‘Ouverture’ (the first movement of the Overture, to clarify) is as eloquent as one could wish, and leads to a sequence of seven further, highly contrasted sections, each of which holds its own rewards for the listener. The violin articulation of ‘Les Plaisirs’ is pure joy, gentile in the extreme; ‘La Badinerie Italienne’ is wonderfully alive; the Courante is busy but the tempo is perfectly chosen so that it does not sound rushed; the final ‘Le Batelage’ scampers along most persuasively.

The Quadro here is described in the notes as a sonata in concerto style. This piece begins with a lively Allegro that positively buzzes with energy while the contrapuntal invention emerges with remarkable facility. A brief but stately Adagio leads to a vital Allegro: Musica Alta Ripa’s differentiations of articulation are joy in the latter.

This is a marvellous disc. That it is called ‘Volume 1’ should be a cause for celebration, for that means more is sure to follow.

Colin Clarke


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