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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767)
Lobet den Herrn, alle seine Heercharen,
Kantate zum Neujahrstage aus dem zweiten Concertenjahrgang TWV 1:1061 (1720/21)
Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten,
Kantate zum Sonntage Laetare aus dem Französichen Jahrgang TWV 1:1593 (1714/15)
Der Tod is verschlungen in den Sieg,
Kantata zum 1. Ostertag aus dem zweiten Concertenjahrgang TWV 1:320 (1720/21)
Dorothee Fries (Soprano)
Mechtild Georg (Alto)
Andreas Post (Tenor)
Albrecht Pöhl (Bass)
Collegium Vokale Siegen
Hannoversche Hofkapelle
Trompeten-Consort "Friedemann Immer"
Ulrich Stötzel, conductor
Recorded August 1997, Martinikirche, Siegen, Germany
Gott, Man lobet dich in der Stille,
Kantate zum Friedenschluss TWV 14:12 (1763)
Konstanze Maxsein (Soprano)
Dagmar Linde (Alto)
Max Ciolek (Tenor)
Raimund Nolte (Bass)
Achim Rück (Bass)
Collegium Vokale Siegen
Hannoversche Hofkapelle
Trompeten-Consort "Friedemann Immer"
Ulrich Stötzel, conductor
Recorded August 1999, Rheingau Musik Festival Kloster Erbach
Missa Brevis TWV 9:14 ( circa 1700) a
Deus judicium tuum (Psalm 71), Grand Motet TWV 7:7 (1737-38) b
Alles redet itzt und singet, Cantata TWV 20:10 (1721) c
David Cordier (Alto) a
Barbara Schlick (Soprano) b c
Martina Lins (Soprano) b
Silke Weisheit (Alto) b
Chrisoph Prégardien (Tenor) b
Stephen Varcoe (Bass) b c
Hans-Georg Wimmer (Bass) b
Reinische Kantorei b
Das Kleine Konzert
Hermann Max, conductor
Recorded 1989 Immanuelskirche Wuppertal-Barmen
[3 CDs: 55.54+53.13+62.36]


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This is a most enterprising release which assembles three discs of Telemann cantatas, each desirable in their own right, into one attractive box.

Telemann wrote a stupendous number of cantatas, many more than Bach, including over a thousand that belong to a series of twelve complete annual cycles for the church's year. The items on this set span Telemann's composing career from his student days right through to his old age.

The first disk presents three cantatas from Telemann's annual cycles. He composed these cycles in national styles so that there were French years and Italian years. The first and last cantatas on the disk are from the 1720/21 cycle in the Italian manner, the second cantata is from the 1714/15 cycle in the French manner. These are large scale pieces, combining choruses, arias, recitative and chorales.

'Lobet den Herrn, alle seine Heerscharen', scored for trumpets, timpani and strings, is a New Year's day cantata and opens in a suitably festive manner with a chorus in which the trumpets are prominent. The chorus sing only in the opening and closing movements of the work, the remainder being arias and recitative. The trumpets are prominent throughout and the soprano's aria 'Gott is ein treuer Hüter' with its lovely string accompaniment is a moment of repose, beautifully sung by Dorothee Fries. A striking feature of the last movement is the way that the trumpets constantly interrupt the final chorale.

'Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten', scored for oboes, bassoon and strings, is a cantata for the 4th Sunday in Lent (Laetare Sunday). The choral contribution to this cantata is greater, the arias being linked by short chorales. Written in Telemann's French style, it is richly scored, often using an independent bassoon part, and stylishly played by the Hannoversche Hofkapelle. It is a more reflective cantata than the previous one and concludes with a rare ensemble for the four soloists which leads into a strong fugue-like choral movement.

ĎDer Tod is verschlungen in den Siegí, scored for trumpets, timpani and strings, is a cantata for Easter Day. The chorus are again restricted to the opening and closing movements, but opening chorus is quite substantial and Telemann illuminates the words with a number of imaginative touches. Another highlight is the tenor/bass Hallelujah duet, resoundingly sung by Andreas Post (Tenor) and Albrecht Pöhl (Bass). The final aria, for the Alto soloist, is one which finds Telemann writing with greater emotional depth and Mechtild Georg responds movingly.

Telemann's more virtuoso passages sometimes find the soloists a little lacking, but they are never less than adequate and Dorothee Fries's solo in the first cantata is beautifully sung. Both the soloists and the bright toned choir are fully responsive to the words and their diction is good. Telemann gives the choir relatively limited opportunities, nothing on the scale of some of Bach's cantatas, but the choir makes the most of what they are given. All three cantatas find Telemann being very inventive with the orchestration and the Hannoversche Hofkapelle and the Trompeten-Consort "Friedemann Immer" play very stylishly, relishing the solo opportunities. The trumpets, playing Telemann's high trumpet parts, are particularly good. Ulrich Stötzel generally favours brisk tempi but nothing feels rushed and the cantatas are beautifully shaped.

The same choir, orchestra and conductor, appear on the second disk which contains a single cantata. Coming from the end of Telemann's life, this work was written to celebrate the end of the Seven Year's war and was performed by the schools of Hamburg and Altona. The cantata is in two parts, one performed before a solemn speech and the other performed after the speech. It is written for 5 soloists, 5-part choir and a substantial orchestra (flutes, oboes, bassoon, trumpets, horns, timpani and strings.)

The choir's contribution is restricted to the choruses which open and close each part. A substantial chorus of praise closes part 1 with its enjoyable dance rhythm and the chorus reoccurs in shortened form at the opening of part 2. A rather neat piece of linking by Telemann. Between these choruses, the bulk of the cantata consists of a sequence of arias and recitatives. There is a considerable amount of text to get through, so the recitatives are quite lengthy. Around 15 minutes of recitative in a performance lasting just over 50 minutes. None of the recitative really takes off, the soloists never manage to make the words come alive and this makes the cantata feel rather undramatic and stilted. A libretto which includes bangs, bombs and sulphurous steam surely demands a performance far less sedate than this one.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the first two arias are allocated to the two Basses, Raimund Nolte and Achim Rück. Neither sounds completely comfortable with their material and Raimund Nolte has a rather tight tone which is not ideal for music of this period. It is a relief when the Soprano, Konstanze Maxsein, sings her first aria, a charming number in a dance rhythm. In fact Konstanze Maxsein's two contributions are some of the most attractive sections of the work. As usual with Telemann the piece is very strikingly orchestrated, some of the ritornelli in the arias are very attractive and beautifully played by the Hannoversche Hofkapelle and the Trompeten-Consort "Friedemann Immer".

Speeds are on the whole rather sedate and careful, the whole performance sounds careful, as if the performers were still getting used to their unfamiliar music. There were times during the performance when I did wonder whether Telemann was merely coasting through some of the material. There are some interesting things here, but the cantata seems to amount to rather less than the sum of its parts, at least in this performance.

The third disk opens with a Missa Brevis for solo and orchestra, dating from Telemann's student years. It is a Lutheran mass, setting only the Kyrie and the Gloria with a simple string accompaniment. Its virtues are its simplicity and directness, though it has few truly memorable moments. The soloist, counter-tenor David Cordier, sings it responsively and blends well with the accompanists but I found his voice a little soft-edged, particularly in the lower register. I would have liked a voice with rather more focus.

The second work on the disk dates from Telemannís stay in Paris in the 1730 and was effectively a present for his hosts, a Grand Motet written in the French style. It is a striking work in the grand French manner, Telemann flattering his hosts with his fine imitation of the French style. It is given a lively, idiomatic performance here and it comes over very well indeed. The three choruses are more substantial than many of the choral contributions on this disk, and the Rheinische Kantorei sing the music with focus and conviction. The soloists. Barbara Schlick and Martina Lins (Sopranos), Silke Weisheit (Alto), Chrisoph Prégardien (Tenor), Stephen Varcoe and Hans-Georg Wimmer (Basses) and Das Keine Konzert under Hermann Max, perform the cantata stylishly striking a nice balance between Telemannís German origins and his assumption of the French style. This is definitely one of the highlights of the disk

The final work is a chamber cantata for soprano and baritone soloists and an orchestra of recorders, oboes, bassoon and strings. It sets a spring song by the Hamburg poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes. Telemann's Brockes Passion had been performed in Hamburg in 1718 and this cantata was performed under the composerís direction at Brockes's home in 1720. The text is full of descriptive detail and Telemann responds to this with similarly descriptive music of a type familiar from Haydn's Creation. Barbara Schlick and Stephen Varcoe are responsive to both text and music. Barbara Schlick's fragile seeming voice is very apt for this chamber cantata and her aria about the Nightingale, with suitably illustrative recorder obbligato, is a delight. Not every moment in this cantata is Telemann on top form, Stephen Varcoe does wonders with his long descriptive passages, you rather wish they were a little shorter. But that is a minor complaint, this fine performance of a charming work nicely rounds off a memorable disk.

This is a highly recommendable release. The first and last disks in the set were well though of by Gramophone on their initial release and Brilliant are to be commended for assembling such a rich and attractive survey of Telemann's cantatas. Given his prodigious output, inevitably the quality of his works can be variable but nearly everything here is attractive and makes interesting listening. The booklet leaves something to be desired. There is no introductory essay and though the insert prints the complete cantata texts along with their explanatory superscriptions, this is all in German with no translations.

Robert Hugill

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