Emmanuel Pahud, the Swiss-French flutist, who was,
like his illustrious predecessor James Galway, the principal of the
Berlin Philharmonic, has in recent years taken off on a spectacular
solo career. Unlike his Irish counterpart, Pahud has yet to resort to
pop music and gimmicks to sell records, and has released a series of
nearly flawless recordings for EMI. I do not know of another classical
artist active today whose recordings I will buy on release day, simply
because he is on them. Pahud is one of the most solid, artistic and
refined musicians in the world, and this splendid collection of concerti
by Telemann has risen to the very top of my listening pile in very short
Telemann was the most respected composer of his generation.
Admired and imitated by such stars as Bach and Handel, Telemann was
monumentally prolific, leaving behind hundreds of cantatas, chamber
works, keyboard and orchestral pieces. The highlight of this recital
is the recently reconstructed concerto in G major TWV 51:G2. Through
the painstaking work of Arn Aske and Ulrike Feld, a gem has been restored
to the repertoire. Until 2000 this piece was thought unplayable as the
manuscript, housed in the library at Rostock was all but unreadable.
Acidic ink had eaten holes in the paper, obliterating notes and the
ink had bled through pages upon which both sides of the paper were written.
Further, there were huge portions of score missing where the pages were
torn completely away. Through great effort and research into Telemann’s
style in 1721 when this piece was composed, Aske and Feld were able
to reconstruct the concerto enabling us to enjoy this lovely work again.
To my ears, there is not a flaw to be found in this
recording. Telemann of course, was a master orchestrator and his writing
for the soloists is perfectly idiomatic. The balance between the soloists
and orchestra is excellent. The Berliner Barock Solisten is as tight
an ensemble as I have ever heard. Intonation is perfect, balances right
on and they have a wonderful sense of the elegance of this music. Soloists
in addition to Pahud play beautifully and in the double and triple concertos
there is a delightful sense of collegial give and take. Albrecht Mayer’s
oboe d’amore sings with splendid contralto warmth in the E major concerto
Recorded sound is right on the mark here, with excellent
balance, lovely ambience and warmth. No flaws in the programme booklet
either, with fascinating and informative notes by Ulrike Feld, complete
biographies of the artist, and even a personnel list of the orchestra
with details about their instruments. An absolute winner, this disc
is not to be missed.