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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Cantatas
Tirsis am Scheidewege, TWV 20:22 [20:39]
Seufzen, Kummer, Angst und Tränen, TWV 20:67 [10:26]
Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht, TWV 7:1 [18:18]
Annette Markert (alto)
Il Parnaso Musicale: Yvonne Weichsel (recorder); Dario Luisi (Baroque violin); Susanne Scholz (Baroque violin); Maurizio Borzone (Baroque viola); Jörg Zwicker (Baroque cello); Ernest Hoetzl (harpsichord, organ)
rec. 3-5 December 1990, Diözesanmuseum, Graz, Austria. DDD
CHRISTOPHORUS CHE 0125-2 [49:23]

 


At under 50 minutes this is a rather ungenerous re-issue from 1990 of two of Telemann’s secular cantatas together with the Psalm setting, Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht. There is much in the blend of words and music to intrigue and delight. These were written as the cantata form was emerging from its origins in imitation of Italian opera. The emotions are strong. Passions (of love) run high, though controlled. Most of the burden of conveying these feelings with such drive falls on Annette Markert; so it’s as well that she’s completely up to the task.

Markert’s rich and unfettered voice also has a central place in half a dozen discs from Ton Koopman’s excellent complete Bach cantata cycle on Challenge. Her repertoire extends to Frank Martin and Max Bruch. Here she is, making the most of her own earnestness with what could easily have become too mannered a style. Yet she moves deftly within the latitude offered at a time when seventeenth century lyricism was giving way to the formalities of the eighteenth century cantata as conceived by Neumeister. The result is that she communicates very personally with listeners – surely as Telemann wanted.

This is a close - almost claustrophobic - recording and somewhat dry. That fact adds to the intimacy with which Markert and the six-person Parnaso Musicale convey music which one might expect to be more intense than as actually written by Telemann. Not that the treatments are conceived or performed in any way with tongue-in-cheek. Genuine feelings of sorrow and sadness are tempered by determination … Thyrsis does make the right choice; love is worth it for the sighing lover; the torments presented to the penitent in the Psalm 6 are very real.

The players of Il Parnaso Musicale play well with a nice balance between supporting Markert as she paints the pain; and driving the musical argument forward. The texture is rich in strings … Zwicker’s Baroque cello (of 1615), Scholz’s Baroque violin (‘18th Century’) and Luisi’s Baroque violin (1791) are period instruments; the others’ play modern copies. It’s a convincing sound; the balance with the voice is also just right – both for the flavour and the tenor of the texts. As a result of this balance, which emphasises the music itself at the expense of effect, repeated listening will enhance not jade.

In Tirsis am Scheidewege (‘Thyrsis’ choice’) Telemann almost plays with the words to emphasise the pastoral infatuation and charm. He makes striking use of wind instruments; in this case the recorder in just one aria. That exemplifies the composer’s interest in painting a sound picture and adds to the music’s appeal.

Seufzen, Kummer, Angst und Tränen (‘Sighs, Sorrow, Worry and Tears’) is about the anguish of love as well. This time the emotion is also conveyed through what can only be described as ‘fraught’ harmonies, as well as a cyclical melody. A remarkable evocation of lovers’ anguish. 

Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht is a setting of the Psalm usually translated in English as ‘Lord, chasten me not’. It has in common with the other two pieces on this disc the sense of pain which is as obvious from the musical writing as from the text. Yet, significantly, Telemann is as concerned with musical beauty - in the way contemporary Italian sonatas had evolved - as he is with the depth of feeling where abject pleading leads to a kind of triumph as foes are thwarted.

The booklet is adequate, though the translations are a little wooden in places; it contains the texts in German and English. To explore the cantatas of the prolific Telemann is always a delight. To have them played as expertly and with as much verve as these players do is a double delight. 

Mark Sealey 

 

 

 


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