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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)

Musica Amphion
Wilbert Hazelzet and Kate Clark, traverso Rémy Baudet, Franc Polman and Sayuri Yamagata, violin Richte van der Meer and Jaap ter Linden, cello William Wroth, trumpet Frank de Bruine, Alfredo Bernardini and Peter Frankenberg, oboe Teunis van der Zwart and Erwin Wieringa, horn
Pieter-Jan Belder, conductor
Recorded Remonstrantse, Doopsgezinde, 2003
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92177 [4 CDs: 69’48 + 69'48 + 61’38 + 69'25]


Brilliant Classics

Musique de Table, Production I
Ouverture - Suite in E minor for two flutes, strings
Quatuor in G major for flute, oboe, violin
Concerto in A major for flute, violin, violoncello, strings
Trio in E-flat major for two violins
Solo in B minor for flute
Conclusion in E minor for two flutes, strings
Musique de Table, Production II
Ouverture-Suite in D major for oboe, trumpet, strings
Quatuor in D minor for recorder, two flutes
Concerto in F major for three violins, violino grosso
Trio in E minor for flute, oboe
Solo in A major for violin
Conclusion in D major for oboe, trumpet, strings
Musique de Table, Production III
Ouverture-Suite in B flat major for 2 oboes, bassoon, strings
Quatuor in E minor for flute, violin, violoncello
Concerto in E flat major for two horns, strings
Trio in D major for 2 flutes
Solo in G minor for oboe
Conclusion in B flat major for two oboes, bassoon, strings



The three so-called Productions of the Tafelmusik or Musique de Table fit nicely onto four CDs and that’s what we have here. The Productions all have their individual colours and ensemble highlights; No.1 for instance is dominated by the flute, No.2 by the oboe and trumpet and each separate Production (Telemann’s own word) is laid out on an established ground plan that takes in an Overture-Suite, Quartet, Concerto, Trio, Solo and a Conclusion (usually a short and pithy summary). The Tafelmusik was issued on subscription in 1733 (celebrity subscribers included a certain "M. Haendel de Londres" as well as Quantz and Pisendel amongst others – you’ll notice the similarity between certain parts of the Sonata (Production 1) and the Suite (Production 2) and Handel’s own Organ Concertos amongst other borrowings.)

So there is plenty of variety and colour and moments too of reflective intimacy amidst the grand schema of Telemann’s design. Musica Amphion under Pieter-Jan Belder are bright, subtle and idiomatic guides to the repertoire. I liked their sense of flexibility without precious over-accentuation, liked, too, the way that the continuo part is rightly subservient in the Overture-Suite (Production No 1). Here the violin-flute exchanges are finely judged; articulation is good, as is the tempo with a basso continuo nicely shaped. Musica Amphion can fine down their sound well – the single voiced lines of the sixth movement Air are expert indeed. The principals are refreshingly straightforward – listen to the noble and forthright oboe of Frank de Bruine in the second movement of the Quartet, the flexible and lyrical cello of Jaap ter Linden or the infectious drive cultivated in the Concerto – where the little pizzicato episodes are handled with discretion and apt delicacy. The Trio’s Affettuoso opening sounds very much like Handel’s Violin Sonatas Op. 1 but by the time of the Allegro finale Telemann’s frolicsome individuality is quite apparent (the likelihood that the influence was the other way around, in any case). Flautist Wilbert Hazelzet shows fine breath control in the Solo in B minor – and his colleagues make this a standout performance from the First Production.

Their approach to the opening Overture-Suite of Production II is just as satisfying. Whilst some other groups may cultivate greater reserves of colour or style Musica Amphion impresses through their balanced approach – it’s bracing and buoyant and very musically satisfying. Thus the chording in the Quartet is brisk and the subsequent melodic episodes full of lilting informality and whilst the Allegro from the Concerto will remind you of Bach the Largo conveys gravity at a tempo giusto without any expressive highlighting along the way. In the Trio the group makes a clear expressive difference between the markings Affettuoso and Dolce and in the same work’s finale the cuckooing vibrancy and finesse is well conveyed. Danny Bond’s bassoon impresses in the Overture-Suite of No.3 – incision, rhythm and good tone - and when we arrive at the fine Quartet in this Production we encounter another good quality of these performances, a fine sense of ensemble balance, as well as cultivation of anticipation and tension. The Concerto sports noble maestoso horns and there is crisp articulation in the Trio, a sprightly command of the Solo (for oboe) when it’s not cultivating a galant profile instead or indulging some glorious suspensions in the Andante. Telemann keeps his most arresting Conclusion for the last; a real hum dinger marked Furioso and lasting not quite two minutes.

I enjoyed the concertante aspects of these performances greatly; phrasing is unmannered and straightforward without becoming prosaic and they evince a true chamber intimacy in the Trios and Quartets. Characterisation of the various movements, whether Francophile or Vivaldian is acutely judged and the rewards are uniform – and lasting.

Jonathan Woolf

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