MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Barbarian Beauty - Concertos for viola da gamba
Marcel's Praeludium [0:47]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto for recorder, viola da gamba, strings and bc in a minor (TWV 52,a1) [14:35]
Marcel's Postludium [0:40]
Johann Gottlieb GRAUN (1702-1771)
Concerto for viola da gamba, strings and bc in D [19:24]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto for violin, violoncello all'inglese, strings and bc in A (RV 546) [9:26]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Concerto for viola da gamba, strings and bc in A [12:05]
Marcel's Farewell [0:36]
Vittorio Ghielmi (viola da gamba), Dorothee Oberlinger (recorder), Mayumi Hirasaki (violin), Marcel Comendant (cymbalon)
Il Suonar Parlante Orchestra/Vittorio Ghielmi
rec. 27 - 30 September 2010, chamber music room of Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, Germany. DDD
PASSACAILLE 972 [57:44]

Experience Classicsonline

The title of this disc is almost exactly the same as that of a disc by the Holland Baroque Society which I reviewed some time ago. It refers to a quotation from Georg Philipp Telemann in which he expresses his admiration for the popular music he heard in Poland. On their disc the Holland Baroque Society explored the connections between this repertoire and Telemann's own compositions. That seems to be a fashionable subject these days. This disc also refers to it, and last year the Canadian Ensemble Caprice gave some concerts under the title "Hungaricus - Georg Philipp Telemann and the 'Gypsy' music". The subject plays only a minor role at the present disc, though.
It relates only to the first piece of the programme, the Concerto in a minor by Telemann, which reflects a clear influence of popular music. This is scored for the unusual combination of recorder and viola da gamba as solo instruments. In Telemann's oeuvre it isn't that unusual: such a scoring also appears in his chamber music. More surprising is that the viola da gamba was used in a concerto at all, especially then. It was one of the main instruments of the 17th century, but at the time composers started to write solo concertos it was in the process of disappearing from the mainstream. Another factor which explains the small number of solo concertos for the gamba is the fact that gamba playing was under strong French influence, whereas the form of the concerto was Italian in origin and character. That raises various questions regarding the repertoire of this disc and its performance.
For most of his life Johann Gottlieb Graun acted as concertmaster of the court orchestra of the Prussian King Frederick the Great. One of the members of the orchestra was Ludwig Christian Hesse. He was the son of Ernst Christian, who for many years was gambist at the court in Darmstadt, and had been a pupil of Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray. Ludwig Christian received his first lessons from his father and worked for some years in the court chapel in Darmstadt as well. In Berlin the gamba was still highly appreciated. Frederick the Great's nephew, Crown Prince Frederick William II, learned to play the gamba from the age of 13, and corresponded with Forqueray. From 1761 until 1771 Hesse was a member of the Crown Prince's private chapel. Graun composed five solo concertos for Hesse which reflect his technical prowess. One wonders how Hesse would have played them, as his education was strongly French-orientated. That is also an issue in regard to the way Vittorio Ghielmi plays this part. The features one associates with French gamba music - elegance and refinement - are generally lacking here. Instead we hear a fully Italian way of playing, much in the style we have become used to from modern Italian baroque orchestras. That in itself is not meant as criticism - it is simply an observation. That said, I am not really satisfied with the way Ghielmi plays. The middle movement, with the tempo indication 'largo', comes off best. The fast movements are a little awkward and choppy, also because of the tendency to play staccato, and rather loud to boot. The concerto by Telemann suffers from the same features, and the balance between the recorder and the orchestra - even though it is a rather small ensemble - is less than ideal.
In Italy the viola da gamba hardly played a role in the first half of the 18th century. Vivaldi used it in one aria in his opera L'incoronazione di Dario, but otherwise he avoided the instrument. The Concerto in A (RV 546) seems to be the only exception. It is scored for violin and a violoncello all'inglese. This is interpreted as a reference to the viola da gamba, which at that time was still quite popular in England. The largest part of Tartini's instrumental music comprises sonatas and solo concertos for his own instrument, the violin. Interestingly Johann Gottlieb Graun was one of his pupils. There are two concertos with a solo part for a low string instrument. In the manuscript of the Concerto in A there is no indication as to which instrument Tartini had in mind. In his liner-notes Vittorio Ghielmi writes: "A similar concerto in D major, preserved in Vienna, bears the posthumous inscription 'per la viola'. In both cases the tessitura excludes the classical viola or cello." Therefore we hear here a performance on the viola da gamba. It has been recorded at least once with a cello, by Pietro Bosna with L'Arte del Arco (Dynamic, 2001). Here the middle movement made me raise my eyebrows because of the frequent glissandi in the solo part.
I need to say something about the contributions of Marcel Comendant, who plays the cymbalon, probably better known as dulcimer; that is the term under which it is discussed in New Grove. This is another connection to the world of popular music. Comendant plays a short introduction to Telemann's concerto and adds a postlude. He is also involved in the realisation of the basso continuo in that concerto, albeit only in the tutti episodes. There are references to such an instrument in 17th- and 18th-century sources, and there was even music specifically written for it. The role it played in the 'art music' of Telemann and his time is hard to say. The liner-notes mention Pantaleon Hebenstreit who was a virtuoso on the instrument. They were both at the same time in Eisenach, and Telemann explicitly praised his virtuosity and his mastery of the French style. Therefore the use of the dulcimer in Telemann's concerto has some plausibility. It is very questionable, though, that the instrument was frequently played. I don't know if any research in this field has taken place, but it would certainly be very interesting to know whether there were any other players of the dulcimer in Telemann's time and environment.
All in all, this is definitely a highly interesting disc. The quality of the music is beyond doubt, and the concerto by Graun is recorded here for the first time - according to Ghielmi. It also raises various questions in regard to the style of performance and scoring. That in itself is not a bad thing. Unfortunately the performances are only partially convincing and musically satisfying. Whose idea was it to print the track-list in blue on a black background? Weren't we supposed to read it?
Johan van Veen
















Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.