Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerti per strumenti vari e orchestra
Concerto in F for 2 horns, strings and continuo [8:43]
Concerto in d minor for 2 chalumeaux, strings and continuo [11:01]
Concerto in G for violin, two violins and continuo [11:42]
Concerto in F for recorder, bassoon, strings and continuo [16:07]
Concerto in e minor for transverse flute, recorded, strings and continuo [13:47]
Accademia Hermans/Fabio Ciofini (harpsichord)
rec. Abbey of San Pietro in Valle, Ferentillo, Italy, 5-7 July 2007. DDD
Booklet with notes in Italian and English - also available online.

Though a prolific composer, Telemann was no more guilty of writing the same concerto 500+ times than was Vivaldi; there’s quite a variety of styles in these works, as I hope to make apparent in my notes. In my book, too, Telemann is worthy to be regarded alongside his slightly older Venetian contemporary, even rivalling his younger contemporaries Bach and Handel in some respects. Even Handel’s Water Music, for example, doesn’t have the range of Telemann’s so-called Hamburg Water Music, the Hamburger Ebb’ und Flut.
There’s variety on this new recording from the beginning. The opening concerto in F for two horns gets us off to a rousing start, while the longer work in d minor which follows, for two chalumeaux, predecessors of the clarinet, is quieter and more reflective; even the closing vivace is quite restrained. The central concerto, in G, for solo violin, two violins and continuo, is on the most intimate scale - it’s almost a trio sonata. None of which prevents it from being a work of considerable variety, with an affective siciliano and a lively finale.
We return to F major for the concerto for recorder, bassoon, strings and continuo, the longest work on the CD and an attractive concerto which you might think the highlight of the collection until you come to the next piece. Well above the other concertos for me is the closing e minor concerto for recorder, transverse flute, strings and continuo, one of his compositions in which Telemann was influenced by Polish style. From the plaintive opening bars of the largo to the rousing (presto) finale, this is a work that has always held me spellbound. I’m glad that this is placed last because it’s music to die for and it rounds off the CD in excellent fashion.
L’Accademia Hermans was founded by Fabio Ciofini to deepen the knowledge of young musicians of the baroque repertoire and practice. A small group - three first and two second violins, one viola, cello, double bass and bassoon, with the director at the harpsichord or chamber organ, it appears from their photograph in the booklet that they play period instruments or copies. Their performances here are intimate, assured and lively; if the two horns in the opening concerti are also period instruments, Marco Venturi and Claudia Quondam Angelo deserve high praise for playing so well in tune. The other soloists on recorder, transverse flute and two chalumeaux, also play well; the solo violin and bassoon are drawn from the orchestra itself. In all cases the performances are suited to the varying moods of the concertos.
There’s no direct competition for this coupling so, if it appeals, you should find it satisfying. The recording is good and the booklet, in Italian and English, is informative, except that I’d have liked to have had the TWV numbers for these concertos. The TWV number for the closing concerto for recorder and flute is TWV52:e1 and there are quite a few rival recordings. Of these I chose an old favourite conducted by Franz Brüggen on Warner Teldec 25646 96449 for comparison, since it’s a version that you can check for yourself if you have access to Naxos Music Library, where it’s exists on a slightly older release, also available for download for just £3.99 from The Teldec version offers a slightly livelier view of the finale, but there’s not much in it; both should have you dancing round the room.
Even if you follow my recommendation and buy the Discantica CD, there’s a strong case for also having that Teldec release for the opening work there, the well-known recorder Suite in a minor, TWV55:a2. The older recording is less clear than the newer Discantica but it still sounds pretty well, with the harpsichord, as was then the wont, rather more prominent than on the modern recording. If you do listen via Naxos Music Library, choose ‘premium’ (CD quality) rather than one of the lower settings to appreciate its quality.
Having selected the Brüggen recording in order to listen to TWV52:e1 I couldn’t resist listening to the Suite in a minor which precedes it and the two works which conclude the CD: the Viola Concerto, TWV51:G9 and the Suite des Nations, TWV55:G4. All of which rekindled my appreciation of the music-making on this recording, so that I would still recommend it as an ideal introduction to Telemann, without in any way deprecating the new recording.
The translator of the notes appears to have been floored for English equivalents for the words corni di caccia (horns), and flauto a becco (recorder), though he manages violin (obviously), transverse flute (flauto a becco) and bassoon (fagotto). Though the notes refer generally to Eastern European, especially Polish, elements, they fail to specify the closing concerto in e minor as displaying such characteristics. (The last movement is a Polish hanaque.) More seriously, they appear to suggest that the musical world was già dominata (already dominated) by Bach and Handel before Telemann came on the scene, which might easily mislead newcomers to Telemann’s music - as he was four years their elder, the boot is, if anything, on the other foot and, as I’ve indicated, in many ways he can give them both a run for their money.
Not my first choice for a Telemann collection, then - that might well be the Warner Teldec CD that I’ve mentioned - but well worth having.
Brian Wilson 

Not my first choice for a Telemann collection but well worth having.


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