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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto for Flute, Strings and Continuo in G TWV 51:G2 (1712-1716) [9:04]
Concerto for Flute, Violin, Cello, Strings and Continuo in A, from TWV 53:A2 (1733)
[19:35] **
Concerto for two Flutes, Violone, Strings and Continuo in A minor, TWV 53:a1 (1720)
[8:48] ***
Concerto for Flute Oboe d’amore, Viola d’amore, Strings and Continuo in E, TWV 53:E1(1730s) [15:48] *
Concerto for Flute, Strings and Continuo in D, TWV 51:D2 (between 1716 and 1725) [12:43]
Emmanuel Pahud (flute); Berliner Barock Solisten (Wolfram Christ (viola d’amore)*; Georg Faust (cello)**; Klaus Stoll (violone)***; Jacques Zoon (flute)***; Albrecht Mayer (oboe d’amore)*); Rainer Kussmaul (violin, director)
rec. June, 2002, Berlin, Germany. DDD
EMI CLASSICS 50999 5 03435 2 2 [66:26]


“Gib jedem Instrument das, was es leiden kann,
So hat der Spieler Lust, du hast Vergnügen dran.”
(Give to each instrument that which suits it best,
then its player will make you feel you’re blessed).

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.

Mark Sealey




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