Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681
Gott Zebaoth in deinem Namen - Cantatas Vol. 2
Weine nicht! Siehe, es hat überwunden der Löwe
(TWV 1,1541)* [18:49]
Sie verachten das Gesetz des Herrn Zebaoth (TWV 1,1339) [15:16]
Gott Zebaoth in deinem Namen (TWV 1,698) [17:33]
Veronika Winter, Jenny Haecker* (soprano), Lena Susanne Norin (contralto),
Jan Kobow (tenor), Ekkehard Abele (bass)
Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max
rec. 18 March 2006, live, Johanniskirche, Magdeburg, Germany. DDD
CPO 777 261-2 [51:51]
Little by little, bit by bit, the corpus of Telemann's sacred
vocal works is rediscovered. However, as the list is very large
there is still a long way to go until we have a full picture
of his contributions to the genre of the sacred cantata. Those
who think that Telemann composed music which is pleasant to
the ear, but rather harmless, should listen to this disc. Here
we get three powerful and expressive cantatas. Two of these
shed light on the darker side of life in no uncertain terms.
The disc opens with a cantata of a happy nature, written for
Easter. It begins with a chorus in two sections. After an introverted
"Do not weep!" the trumpets enter and the choir sings "Behold,
the lion has triumphed". This is partially a re-working of a
cantata for solo voice from the collection Fortsetzung des
Harmonischen Gottesdienstes of 1731/32. The operatic tenor
aria is here put into the mouth of 'the glad Christian': "Just
rage, you old serpent!", referring to the devil as he manifested
himself in Paradise. After a recitative we hear a dictum
- a literal quotation from the Bible - for alto with basso continuo;
the latter vividly illustrates the text. 'The glad Christian'
- this time a bass - then sings: "Up, up, redeemed souls, magnify
the heavenly king's war". It is in the form of a battaglia,
with trumpets and drums. The same character then takes the pitch
of a soprano in an aria with an echo, sung by a second soprano,
just like the famous aria 'Flösst mein Heiland' in Bach's
Christmas Oratorio. The cantata ends with a chorale:
"So we celebrate this high feast with heartfelt joy and bliss".
The two other cantatas are of a completely different kind. Sie
verachten das Gesetz des Herrn Zebaoth is for the 10th Sunday
after Trinity. The gospel reading of the day is Luke 19, vs
41-48 which tells of Jesus weeping at the sight of Jerusalem.
He predicts its destruction, because the people "despise the
law of the Lord of hosts", as the prophet Isaiah stated (Ch
5, vs 24-25), quoted in the dictum which opens the cantata.
Telemann's setting of this text is very gloomy, with chromaticism,
strong dissonants and modulations. This is followed by a stanza
from a penitential song. The following soprano recitative urges
the listener to take lessons from the fate of Jerusalem: "He
who has ears to hear, let him hear, ready to repent". This leads
without interruption to an alto aria in which Germany is warned
that it may share Jerusalem's fate: "Do you then not think that
God's hand in the end someday might not find you too, horribly
to punish your people?" Then follows the hymn 'Straf mich nicht
in deinem Zorn' (Do not punish me in your wrath). The soprano
aria is in two sections and has no dacapo; the two parts are
juxtaposed through a shift in metre. This reflects the text:
in the first section it is supposed that many people "desire
to increase the devil's realm of sin", but "I shall reform my
life in faith", the second section says. The cantata ends with
a repetition of the opening dictum.
The last cantata links with the subject of the previous one.
Here worldly pleasures are juxtaposed with the harsh reality
of life which leads to the appeal from St John's first letter
(Ch 2, vs 15): "Do not love the world or what is in the world."
Two arias comprise strongly opposing sections: the first describes
the pleasures of the world, the second states that this is all
a matter of "keeping up appearances". The gospel reading of
the day is Luke 7, vs 11-17, about Jesus raising the young man
from Nain. In the bass aria he is quoted as saying: "Youth,
I say to you: arise!". This is meant here metaphorically: man
should arise from sin and devote himself to the service of God.
The depiction of worldly pleasures in the opening aria is illustrated
through extended coloratura on the word "frohlocket" (jubilates).
The next soprano recitative is unusually long and has the character
of a penitential lecture. It is interspersed with the hymn 'Du,
o schönes Weltgebäude": "You, o beautiful world, your
seeming joy is merely a cover for pure fear". The cantata ends
with a chorale: "Make heaven always sugar-sweet for me and this
world bitter as bile".
This is a Telemann you don't hear that often - or, rather, who
is mostly overlooked. The latter two cantatas are very baroque
in their use of images - both textually and musically - depicting
sin and the reality of death as its effect. This is Telemann
at his best in the musical illustration of the text and its
meaning, in sometimes passionate arias, sermon-like recitatives
and in the effective use of instruments. Hermann Max was an
early advocate of Telemann's vocal music, and he shows here
again his faculty for exploring the full dramatic power of his
cantatas. The Easter cantata has the brilliance which reflects
its character, whereas the message of the other two cantatas
is incisively conveyed. The four soloists are simply outstanding;
the recitatives - which are often the weak spot in performances
of baroque cantatas - are perfectly executed as a speech on
music. The orchestra delivers very colourful performances.
Johan van Veen
A disc to treasure which shows Telemann and the performers at
their very best.