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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767)
Ein Feste Burg Ė Vocal and Instrumental Music

Ich danke dem Herrn von gansem Herzen TVWV 7:14 [18.05]
Halt, was du tast TVWV 8:9 [8.54]
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott TVWV 8:7
Hamburgische Trauermusik [17.16]
Es segne uns Gott TVWV 7:30 [2.54]
Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied TVWV 7:30 [16:14]
Ruth Ziesak (soprano)
Sonja Erwied (soprano)
Arnon Zlotnik (alto)
Jan Kobow (tenor)
Michael Berner (tenor)
Konstantin Wolff (bass)
Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet)
Vocalensemble Rastatt
Les Favourites/Holger Speck
rec. 5-10 October 2004, Altkatholische Auferstehungskirche, Karlsruhe
CARUS 83.166 [74.32]

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With a composer as prolific as Telemann and with an oeuvre covering so many different styles and genres, it must be difficult to make a selection of his works for CD. For this latest disc in the Telemann series, German music publishers Carus have issued an attractive selection of Telemannís motets and psalms based on Biblical texts.

The two substantial Psalm settings, Ich danke dem Herrn von ganzem Herzen, TVWV 7:14 (setting Psalm 111) and Singet dem Herr nein neues Lied TVWV 7:30 (setting Psalm 96) survive in manuscripts which give little clue to the worksí dates. The Psalm 111 setting is attractive, scored for choir and soloists with an accompanying ensemble of trumpet, oboes and strings. The result is imaginatively scored by Telemann and alternates solos for each of the soloists (soprano Ruth Ziesak, alto Arnon Zlotnik, tenor Jan Kobow and bass Konstantin Wolf) with choral movements.

The Psalm 96 setting is probably an early work. Though the manuscript comes from a collection in Frankfurt-am-Main, the work probably pre-dates Telemannís period as Musikdirektor in Frankfurt (1712 Ė 1721). Written for choir, soloists and string accompaniment, it opens with a short, lively instrumental sonata. Attractive duets for alto Arnon Zlotnik and tenor Michael Berner and for soprano Sonja Erwide, alternate with choruses and solos for alto Arnon Zlotnik and bass Konstantin Wolf.

The other substantial work here is the Hamburgischer Trauermusik. This dates from Telemannís later, Hamburg period and consists of instrumental music which he wrote for the funerals of two Mayors of Hamburg. Part 1 was written for a funeral in 1723 and part 2 in 1739. Written for an ensemble consisting of 2 oboes, 3 trumpets, timpani and strings, the resulting suite displays some of the most sophisticated music on the disc. Telemannís use of muted trumpets and muffled timpani imparts a muted, funereal air but the music is richly orchestrated, full of wonderful felicities and deep-toned orchestral colours.

The disc is completed by three motets from the library of Princess Anna Amalia, sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia. They are very traditional in style, with just continuo accompaniment. Halt, was du Hast, TVWV 8.9 follows the structure of the traditional 17th century Lutheran chorale motet with the chorale melody O du allersüsseste Freude used as a cantus firmus in the third section. Es segne uns Gott, TVWV 8:8, is a short piece; a late composition notable mainly for its use of German expression markings, something Telemann started doing after 1730. Ein Feste Burg, TVWV 8:7 was written whilst he was musical director in Hamburg (1721 Ė 1767). Written for the celebrations in 1730 of the bicentenary of the Confession of Augsburg, it sets five verses of Lutherís well known hymn.

All these are given attractive performances by soli, choir and orchestral ensemble. The choir, Vocalensemble Rastatt (numbering around two dozen singers), makes an admirably crisp sound and their German diction seems to be good; something which is important in these works written in the vernacular for popular edification. They are accompanied by the instrumental ensemble, Les Favourites, who respond in an admirably crisp and flexible manner to Holger Speckís direction. In the purely instrumental pieces they display real enjoyment of Telemannís lovely orchestration.

The soloists are all admirable, singing with style and a fine sense of line. A particular mention must be made of the hard working alto, Arnon Zlotnik, and bass Konstantin Wolff, who both sing solo on four tracks a-piece whereas the other soloists perform on just one track each.

This is an attractive disc, with a well put together and varied programme played in fine style by performers who convey real enjoyment. It would make an admirable introduction to Telemannís art.

Robert Hugill


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