A selection of five wind
concertos by Telemann, played by Camerata Köln, with Michael
Schneider as director and one of the soloists rang a bell – the
sound was coming from a 1991 Deutsche Harmonia Mundi recording
(RD77201, no longer available, but a strong candidate for
budget- or mid-price reissue). None of its contents overlap
with the works on this CPO recording. The quality of that
earlier recording and of a later (1996) DHM recording of
Telemann by Concerto Köln (“a welcome and pleasing reissue” on
mid price 74321 935572 – see MC’s review
gave me high hopes for the new CD – hopes which were not
This is the second volume
of a planned series and the third is already announced
on the CPO website. Volume 1 (777 032-2), released in November,
2007, again featuring a variety of wind instruments, is
also a joint enterprise between La Stagione Frankfurt and
Camerata Köln. MS gave it a warm welcome – see review
KS was equally appreciative – see review
KS concluded by saying “one can only salivate a bit for
more if this fine disc is a representative harbinger of
the entire series.” Clearly it was, at least as far as
Volume 2 is concerned.
Both ensembles are excellent.
Both represent what I sometimes call authentic performance
without the tears. Even the horns sound in tune. Such perfection
sometimes comes at the expense of expression, but such
is not the case here. I’d have been very hard put to it
to establish which group performed which piece, if the
booklet had not made the matter clear.
As well as offering splendid
direction – tempo, phrasing, everything just right – Michael
Schneider is himself the excellent recorder soloist in
the first concerto.
The other soloists, though
less well known, are equally fine. KS singled out the playing
of the horn players, Ulrich Hübner and Jörg Schulteß and
the oboist Luise Baumgartl on Volume 1; the playing of
all three here in TWV52/D1 and TWV53/d1 respectively, is
equally deserving of praise. I can hardly believe that
natural horns can be played so securely, but I hesitate
to single the horn players out: Martin Stadler as the second
oboist and Marita Schaar on bassoon in TWV53/d1 are very
good and Hans Peter Westermann, who featured on Camerata’s
earlier DHM recording, is an equally adept oboist in TWV51/f1,
while Karl Kaiser plays a mean flute in TWV51/G1.
Though made with different
groups and at different times over a longish time span,
the recordings were all made in the same venue, clearly
an excellent choice for recording this music.
The notes in the booklet
are very good. Now that the Werner Menke and Martin Ruhnke Telemann
(TWV) provides the established catalogue
for Telemann’s works, it is important that recording companies
give the details, as here, to avoid purchasing multiple
versions of the same works; earlier recordings, like the
DHM, did not do so. In many respects, the TWV catalogue
is more informative than the equivalent BWV catalogue for
Bach: the first number refers to the genre, the letter
after the slash gives the key, with lower case for minor
keys, the digit gives the number of the concerto – thus
TWV51/C1 means the first Concerto in C in category 51.
The recorded sound is
first-class – slightly less plush than Camerata Köln’s
earlier DHM recordings and better for it, good as the DHM
sound is. I find it very difficult to find any fault with
this recording – even the booklet appears to be an improvement
on the first volume: the English may be a little stilted,
but it is perfectly comprehensible.
For those who buy this
recording and like what they hear, Volume 3 must surely
be the next stop. Meanwhile, however, I can strongly recommend
a number of Chandos recordings made by Collegium Musicum
90 and Simon Standage. To pick just two of these, issued
before MusicWeb was up and running and, therefore, I believe,
never reviewed here.
CHAN0661 begins with the
enchanting Concerto in e minor for recorder and flute,
which has to be my favourite among the Telemann concertos – just
listen to the sample of the finale on the Chandos website
to see what I mean. Conventional wisdom would suggest that
flute and recorder are too alike to be paired as solo instruments,
but Telemann’s speciality was to get away with unlikely
pairings: he certainly does so here. The other chief recommendation
for this CD is the Ouverture Comique
it off – a musical picture of a gout-stricken man plagued
by little devils.
The chief attraction of
CHAN0547 is the Alster-Ouverture
, a kind of rehearsal
for the better-known Hamburg Water Music
, but the Grillen-Sinfonie
Cricket Symphony is also very attractive. The horn playing
here is slightly less secure than on the new CPO recording – not
just in the Alster-Ouverture
, where there are some
wonderful, intentional, out-of-tune notes in the manner
of Mozart’s Musical Joke
– but also in the opening
Concerto in D for three horns and violin. I don’t want
to make too much of this, however; it’s most unlikely to
spoil your enjoyment of this excellent recording.
Neither of these Chandos
recordings overlaps with the material on the new CPO release
and both are also available as downloads from theclassicalshop.net
in mp3 and lossless versions. I downloaded one album in
mp3 and the other in wma format and both sound excellent.
These recordings are also available as mp3s from classicsonline.com.
There are, however, several
lower-price Telemann recordings which are well worth hearing.
Sadly, the best of these, Telemann’s so-called Water
(correctly known as Hamburger Ebb’ und Fluth
Hamburg Ebb and Flow), formerly available on a super-budget
Eloquence CD (Musica Antiqua Köln/Reinhard Goebel, 469
664-2, with two wind concertos and excerpts from the Tafelmusik
appears to have reverted to its original coupling at full
price (413 788 2). Look out for remainders – otherwise,
please may we have this and other Goebel recordings of
Telemann from Australian Eloquence? Alternatively, you’ll
need to pay full price for the King’s Consort version of Ebb’ und
, coupled with Handel’s Water Music
Hyperion CDA66967, also available from iTunes in their
superior Plus format.
Sarah Francis and the
London Harpsichord Ensemble made some excellent Telemann
Oboe Concerto recordings for Unicorn, now licensed to the
super-budget label Regis: Volume I is a 2-CD set on RRC2057,
Volume II is on one CD, RRC1119.
Naxos, too, have a wealth
of low-priced Telemann performances, from their early account
of the Suite in a
, etc. (8.550156, Capella Istropolitana)
to their well-received recordings of the smaller-scale
works from Tafelmusik
(8.553724/5 and 8.553731).
The Freiburg Baroque Consort version of the Flute Quartets
also high on my list (HMA195 1787 – also available as a
download from eMusic and iTunes.)
Plenty to be getting on
with here, then, even without mentioning any of Telemann’s
vocal music. But start your journey with the current CD.