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Crotchet   AmazonUK   Released 28th June

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Complete violin concertos, Vol. 1.
Violin Concerto in C major TWV 51:C2 [10:15] Violin Concerto in G major TWV 51:G8 [6:36] Violin Concerto in E minor TWV 51:e3 [7:06] Violin Concerto in D major TWV 51:D9 [9:34] Violin Concerto in E major TWV 51:E2 [11:28] Violin Concerto in F major TWV 51:F2 [8:55]
Violin Concerto in D major TWV 51:D10 [5:15] Elizabeth Wallfisch, violin and conductor L’Orfeo Barockorchester
Rec. 11-13 September 2002, Sendesaal des SWR-studios, Karlsruhe, Germany. DDD CPO 999 900-2 [59:21]

When CPO release a disc such as this one, and “Volume 1” appears at the end of the title, the savvy listener can almost always be guaranteed that something wonderful is being launched. For as long as the series goes, there will be something to which to look forward on a regular basis for a good while to come. In this, the first disc in a series covering the violin concertos of Telemann (of which there are twenty), we have cause for rejoicing. These performances are so fine, and this music so appealing and elegant, that I immediately listened to the entire disc through a second time, and have since heard it at least twice more. Given the number of CDs that cross my desk in a month, this is rare praise indeed.

Telemann was a musician with an almost insatiable appetite for knowledge, and took it upon himself to master practically every instrument in common use in his time. Of the some dozen or more instruments upon which he became proficient, it was the violin that was his main interest, and he spent many hours perfecting his technique. Fortunately for us, he was also a prolific composer, and like the much-maligned Vivaldi, left hundreds of works behind which are as diverse and original as music itself.

Telemann was most concerned with melody and its place in a composition, and as such, rather frowned on what he considered to be the tasteless virtuosity of the Italian style of concertos as exemplified in the works of Corelli and Vivaldi et. al. Instead, he favored the French style, with its more subdued and elegant melodic construction. Thus we find that a number of his concerti are cast in a four-movement form (slow-fast-slow-fast) as opposed to the Italianate three-movement style (fast-slow-fast).

Perhaps the most remarkable single aspect of these works is the marvelous use of the “salterio” or dulcimer as an instrument in the orchestra. This unusual color made this listener stand up from my seat and run the track back to make sure I was not imagining things. It is a simply masterful touch and is particularly lovely in the little cadenza at the end of the third movement of the E major concerto presented here.

Elizabeth Wallfisch is a most tasteful and elegant player, and she adheres to Telemann’s desire not to display virtuosity for its own sake. She plays with conviction and spot on intonation, and with the grace and style of a fine soloist, but she never hogs the limelight, allowing the music to speak for itself. This music is, of course, quite capable of same.

The L’Orfeo Barockorchester is a real find in itself. Having never heard them play before, I was delighted with their sense of ensemble and intonation and the spirit with which they bring this music to life. If this disc is any indication of their abilities, then we have much to look forward to from this fine group. I cannot wait to hear them in some orchestral repertoire.

This is a disc that should appeal to almost anyone who enjoys fine music making, and I can only say that I anxiously await volume two and the delights that must wait in store! Sound quality is of the highest order and program notes and production are first rate. Recommended without a moment’s hesitation.

Kevin Sutton


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