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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Quartet No. 7 in D major
Quartet No. 8 in A minor
Quartet No. 3 in A major
Quartet in E minor
Hortus Musicus: Andres Mustonen (violin and artistic director); Neeme Punder (flute); Peeter Klaas (viola da gamba); Tarmo Toom (cello); Imbi Tarum (harpsichord)
Recorded at Linnahall Studio, Tallinn, Estonia in 1992 DDD
WARNER APEX 2564 60636-2 [52:20]


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For most modern listeners the music of Telemann inevitably takes a back seat to the popularity of his contemporary J.S. Bach. It is easy to forget that it was Telemann who was the most feted German composer of their day. Bach was respected but not revered.

Both composers have in common their prolific production in terms of music produced. We are told that the Telemann Werkverzeichnis (TWV), which is Telemannís complete catalogue of works, contains 3,600 entries of preserved works. This Apex recording of previously released music comprises four quartets out of 465 listed chamber works,]. There are over sixty quartets.

The ensemble Hortus Musicus use a combination of violin, flute, viola da gamba, cello and harpsichord. As the string quartet was not a firmly established genre in Telemannís time different combinations of instruments were used. Even so the quartet that Telemann was familiar with consisted of three instruments and a basso continuo

Included on this release are two pleasing quartets from the collection entitled Nouveaux Quatuors en six Suites published in Paris in 1738. These six movement quartets are scored for flute, violin, viola da gamba or cello and continuo. The gratifying quartet in four movements scored for flute, violin, cello and continuo is taken from Telemannís famous collection Musique de table (Tafelmusik). The final work on this release is the attractive quartet in four movements for flute, violin and continuo which is taken from the collection Six Concerts et six Suites.

Using period instruments the ensemble Hortus Musicus under the artistic direction of violinist Andres Mustonen were new names to me. But what a marvellously talented group of players they prove to be, showing a clear affinity for these works. Thereís no uncomfortable scratching and scraping away at the same unvarying dynamic level. Hortus Musicus display a really fine tone with polished and refreshing interpretations and a sure-footed technical security. No instrument is allowed to dominate and a really fine balance is achieved allowing a ravishing and appropriately understated performance.

The engineers from Finlandia Records who originally produced this release in 1992 have excelled with a clear and bright sound quality. On the downside just over fifty minutes of music on a CD is disgraceful by todayís standards. By way of comparison I now have several eighty minute CDs in my collection.

Telemann lovers are being offered a real bargain here. I have no hesitation in recommending this release especially at super budget price.

Michael Cookson

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