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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Divine Harmony
1. Weg mit Sodoms gift’gen Früchten [12:32]
2. Glaubet, hoffet, leidet, duldet [11:01]
3. Stille die Tränen des winselnden Armen [10:41]
4. Ergeuss dich zur Salbung der schmachtenden Seele [14:29]
5. Trio for two flutes, in D major (1705-12?) [10:23]
6. Der Geduldige Socrates: Scene 12 (1721) [7:51]
Patrice Djerejian (contralto) (1-4, 6)
English Chamber Orchestra/Sir Philip Ledger (1-4, 6)
William Bennett; Kate Hall (flutes); Sir Philip Ledger (harpsichord); Josephine Knight (cello) (5)
Monika Stache (soprano) Guido Sanguinetti (bass) Norbert Meyn (tenor) Rosalind Waters (soprano) Simon Preece (baritone) (6)
rec. January 2004, St. Luke’s Church, London
Texts and translations included
MSR CLASSICS MS1211 [66:53]
Experience Classicsonline

For all his immense productivity, Telemann very rarely disappoints. Such, at least, was the conclusion I reached very early in my days of listening to baroque music. This disc does nothing to make me change my working axiom.
We get to hear three aspects of Telemann’s work, as composer of sacred cantatas and of chamber music, and as operatic composer. To take the chamber music first: the Trio Sonata for two flutes is thoroughly delightful. It is very much in the French manner, its four movements (Menuet – Gavotte – Sommeil – Gigue) forming a suite of charming and characteristically inventive music. It gets an affectionate but disciplined performance here, the two flutes of William Bennett and Kate Hall interweaving in a fascinating and gently compelling fashion, ably supported by the continuo work of Sir Philip Ledger and Josephine Knight, springy, supportive and attentive. The blending of the two flutes is nowhere more apparent, nowhere more beautifully heard than in the ‘Sommeil’. This is Telemann’s take on the French vogue for slow lullaby-like pieces, a vogue which seems to have begun (or at any rate gathered force) with the popularity of the aria “Dormez, dormez beaux yeux” in Lully’s Les Amants magnifiques of 1670, and of which there are attractive examples by, amongst others, Campra, Francois Couperin and Jacquet de la Guerre. Suffice it so say that Telemann’s ‘sommeil’ will stand comparison with its French originals.
If I have begun my review with the Trio Sonata, that is partly because I think it a particularly fine piece; but it is also because I have some small reservations about the singing of Patrice Djerejian, whose name is the one blazoned most prominently on the front of the CD. She sings four of Telemann’s short sacred cantatas. Each follows the same pattern, being made up of three sections, two da capo arias separated by a recitative. Characteristically, the limitations of the formula don’t inhibit Telemann. He is consistently alert in his response to text, with more than a little word-painting of a mildly predictable kind, which functions very effectively as musical rhetoric, gripping and directing the hearer’s attention to the moral impact of his very serious texts. By his contrasts of tempo, his superb obbligato decorations (John Anderson’s oboe is heard to beautiful effect), his consistently inventive writing for solo violin and flute and the flexibility of his rhythms, Telemann maintains and rewards the listener’s interest throughout. Djerejian is at her best in the slower movements - she sings with gravity and beauty in the second aria of Weg mit Sodoms gift’gen Früchten, for example; she generally handles the recitatives very well too, her phrasing intelligent and her work often conveying a real sense of serious religious thought. In some of the quicker arias, however, her voice is rather on the heavy side, and can sound somewhat hard on higher notes. But these reservations don’t spoil one’s enjoyment of some fine music, and the evident commitment of Djererian’s performances is always attractive; she is clearly a singer who thinks hard about the words she is singing.
The CD ends with an extract – a single scene – from one of Telemann’s surviving operas (most are lost), Der Geduldige Socrates (The Patient Socrates), in which Djerejian is joined by other singers, but takes the dominant role as Antippo, pleading with the would-be-suicide Edronica, whom he loves. Antippo’s aria (‘Hegt dein Herze Kein Ebarmen’) elicits some particularly fine singing from Djerejian, plaintive but strong in its opening (where she is beautifully supported by Ledger and the orchestra), and more fiercely passionate later. The extract closes with a beautiful duet between Antippo and Edronica (nicely sung by Monike Stache), a subtle and graceful piece, melodic lines interweaving before the voices are, properly enough, united in the final affirmation of eternal loyalty to one another.
Glyn Pursglove


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