So wrote Telemann,
surely one of the composers most sensitive to the (virtuosic)
properties of those instruments available in the high Baroque.
On this strongly recommended CD from Emmanuel Pahud with the
Berlin Baroque Soloists five widely different concerti explore
many more aspects of the flute in concerto contexts.
What will almost
certainly strike you first is the great variety which Telemann
has at his disposal: of timbre and texture, melody and tunefulness
and structure and balance between soloist(s) and full orchestra.
It’s as though every time Telemann began the composition of
a new concerto movement, it prompted him to reach not very far
into a wealth of new ideas and lavish them all on four slow-fast-slow-fast
(sonata da chiesa) movements resulting in a unique and
stimulating composition never to be repeated.
The performers on
this CD respond warmly and with freshness to this inventiveness
and attack each movement almost as though for the first time;
they skip and spring rather than jog. Undoubtedly this reflects
the level of virtuosic and expressive skills expected of orchestral
players in Telemann’s time; they were equal to those of ‘named’
soloists. So Telemann wrote intricate and engaging music for
everyone. This is just how the Berlin Baroque Soloists approach
these works. They pay close attention to every nuance and play
far greater than mere supporting roles for Pahud.
We must be grateful
to have the TWV 51:G2 at all since it was only reconstructed
(in 2000, by Arn Aske and Ulrike Feld) from a physically marred
(ink acid) manuscript. This is its first and so far only recording.
The second piece on this disc, TWV 53:A2 in A Major, is actually
from Telemann’s Tafelmusik and was capaciously praised
by Handel, who was also obviously influenced by its broad, comfortable
feel and unalloyed sense of joy and celebration. TWV 53:a1 in
A Minor is rich in the lower registers as bass viol and flutes
play together for lengthy stretches – the two flutes together
are particularly striking. While TWV 53:E1 in E is interesting
in exploring the contrasts which the fruity oboe d’amore and
viola d’amore strike with the incisive sounds of the flute.
In these last two pieces Pahud’s abilities to play with, and
not against, the others and thus have a more satisfying whole
emerge are to the fore - and gladly so. TWV 51:D2 in D, written
only a little earlier, is fast-paced and allows ample scope
for the soloist to explore ‘high tension’ ornamentation. If
there were a criticism of Pahud, it would be that his playing
is a touch impersonal, less expressive than it might be. Not
bland nor ungenerous, but slightly tame, understated when the
genre really allows more personality to present itself.
One would never
want to reduce these elegant, wholesome and largely extrovert
concerti to serve as illustrations of ‘instruments of the orchestra’.
But the wind and strings for which they were written do display
their various characteristics – alone and in combination - clearly,
interestingly and in broad sets of complementary contexts. At
first the pure sounds of oboe d’amore, viola d’amore, violin,
bass viol, cello and of course flute predominate. But these
would be essentially meaningless without Telemann’s gift for
invention and technique. It is to this whole that the forces
on this CD have responded – unfussily and undemonstratively.
You’ll buy this
CD, then, for its open and transparent delight in high Baroque
instrumental sound, for yet another exposition of flute playing
by the well established but exciting and accomplished French-Swiss
flautist, Emmanuel Pahud, whose repertoire ranges from Bach
to Takemitsu… he was the principal flute of the Berlin Philharmonic
Orchestra under Claudio Abbado. But chiefly, surely, to listen
in awe for the next brilliant, sophisticated or simple invention
waiting at Telemann’s side to be heard.
The recording is
clear and unreverberant; it appears to be a reissue of EMI Classics
57397 from 2003. The booklet is useful and well produced
with ample information on the players and origins of the concertos.