There have been several
recordings of Telemann’s famous Tafelmusik
over the last two decades some being
complete versions, for example Musica
Antiqua Köln directed by Reinhard
Goebel on four CDs (Archive 427619).
Mostly however what you will find on
CD is a selection from what Telemann
called his ‘Four productions’ - i.e.
the four sets of chamber and orchestral
works released at New Year, Ascension,
Michaelmas and Christmas in 1733 on
subscription. Financially the risk paid
off with many subscribers, fellow composers
and the aristocracy, all paying a considerable
sum to have their names inscribed on
the first printing, and making the acquisitive
Telemann a considerable amount of profit
into the bargain.
Of course this would
all be irrelevant now if the music were
of no consequence. The fact is that
these various pieces are of a generally
very high standard. Handel indeed was
a subscriber and ‘borrowed’ liberally.
Cherry picking from the four sets to
a make a CD is no easy matter; Musica
Amphion under Pieter-Jan Belder have
achieved a very pleasing selection.
It might perhaps have been enhanced
by the inclusion of one of the solo
works or solo sonatas; there was surely
time on the disc. This is one of those
recordings that can be enjoyed straight
through from beginning to end without
a sense of déja vu or
tedium, and, as intended, over a relaxing
Let me compare this
version by one from 1989 by Musica Antiqua
Köln, on a single disc (Archiv
429 774-2 nla) to show you how this
programme was put together.
Belder opens with a
glorious Ouverture and Suite in D major
from the second production. The key
should immediately tell you that a natural
trumpet is involved, which it is. There
is also an oboe. The whole suite is
celebratory and opens, as do all Ouvertures
at the time, with the longest movement
also called an Ouverture. Of the same
length is the Ouverture in Bb (from
the first production) which opens Goebel’s
selection. Goebel chose a predominantly
introverted group of French titled movements
whereas Belder’s suite has Italian movement
titles such as ‘Allegro’ or ‘Presto’
and a livelier character to match.
Belder, features as
the recorder player in the Quartet for
two flutes and recorder from the Second
Production. This three-movement work
is a spirited and interesting piece;
much more imposing than Goebel's Quartet
in E minor from the First Production.
In both recordings
a concerto follows; in fact the same
concerto, a particularly fine example,
reminiscent of Vivaldi. It is known
that Telemann was familiar with the
work of his Italian Contemporary. This
Concerto is in F major and is from the
First Production. Handel borrowed this
piece for his Oratorio ‘Solomon’. Both
performances are remarkably similar
although Belder’s recording is more
‘in your face’ than Goebel’s and has
At this point Goebel
offers us a thirteen minute trio followed
by a solo sonata, ending with a very
brief ‘Conclusion’ from the Third Production.
Belder goes straight into the much longer
but exciting ‘Conclusion’ to the Fourth
Production. Goebel’s disc offers fourteen
minutes more music.
What was Telemann attempting
to do with these compositions? It seems
that he was as interested in the union
of differing European styles of music
(and this is what made these pieces
so attractive and interesting to his
contemporaries). Couperin intended something
similar in his more recent ‘La Parnasse
ou L’Apothéose de Corelli’ (1724).
I have already mentioned a Vivaldi-influenced
concerto. I should also mention the
so-very-French influence which lies
behind the double-dotted movements in
some of the Ouverture sections and the
serious Germanic style of the Conclusion
on this disc or in Goebel’s B minor
Trio. A sort of musical reconciliation
is going on emblematic of an attempt
to tie together the musical conflicts
of the time into one vast publication;
and this even before the days of the
I like this new disc
both for its exciting, often driving
performances and its bright recording
quality. However Goebel gives you more
music and arguably more tastefully performed.
This new disc is budget priced however.
It is well worth the modest outlay.
At any price you would surely not be