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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) The Grand Concertos for Mixed Instruments, Volume 4
Concerto in c minor for oboe, violin, strings and continuo, TWV 52:c1 [7:19]
Concerto in D for trumpet, 2 oboes, strings and continuo, TWV 53:D2 [8:32]
Concerto in F for 2 horns, 2 violins, recorder, oboe, 2 violoncellos and continuo, TWV 54:F1 [24:04]
Concerto F for 2 recorders, 2 oboes, 2 violins and continuo, TWV 44:41 [7:15]
Concerto in e minor for 2 transverse flutes, violin, strings and continuo, TWV 53:e1 [11:51]
Martin Stadler (oboe), Ingeborg Scheerer (violin), Hans Peter Westermann (oboe), Annette Spehr (oboe), Hannes Rux (trumpet), Annette Wehnert (violin), Karl Kaiser (flute), Michael Schneider (flute)
La Stagione Frankfurt/Michael Schneider
rec. Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Köln, May 2013 (53:e1); October 2013 (52:c1) and January 2014 (53:D2, 54:F1, 44:41). DDD.
CPO 7778922 [59:30]

Reviewed as lossless download with pdf booklet from and as streamed from Naxos Music Library

Concerti per molti stromenti
Concerto TWV 54:D3 for 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, strings and continuo in D [9:52]
Concerto TWV 53:h1 for 2 flutes, calchedon, strings and continuo in b minor (Dresden Version) [12:01]
Concerto TWV 44:43 for 3 oboes, 3 violins and continuo in B flat [7:48]
Sonata TWV 44:32 for 2 violins, 2 violas, violoncello and continuo in f minor [7:04]
Concerto TWV 53:F1 for mandolin, hammered dulcimer, harp, strings and continuo in F (from “Musique de Table, II. Production, No.3”, arr. Peter Huth) [15:23]
Concerto TWV 53:d1 for 2 oboes, bass, strings and continuo in d minor [8:59]
Concerto TWV 54:D2 for 3 horns, violin, strings and continuo in D [9:29]
Adagio from Concerto TWV 43:G5 for 2 violins, viola, violoncello and continuo in G [1:29]
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
rec. Teldec Studio, Berlin, 19-22 September 2016. DDD.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902261 [72:05]

Reviewed as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from

This is the fourth volume of concertos for several instruments which CPO have given us, all with La Stagione and Michael Schneider:
- Volume 1: TWV deest, 54:B1, 54:D3, 54:E1, 44:42, 50:3 7778592 [62:33] – review.  Lossless download from or stream from Naxos Music Library (both with pdf booklet). 
- Volume 2: TWV53:D4, 52:a1, 54:D4, 54:B2, 53:D5 CPO 7778902 [59:36] – reviewed as lossless download from (NO booklet) and as streamed from Naxos Music Library (with pdf booklet)
- Volume 3; TWV54:D3, 52:e3, 54:D2, 53:e2, 54:D1 CPO 7778912 [62:37] – review.  Lossless download from or stream from Naxos Music Library (both with pdf booklet).

The same performers, often in company with Camerata Köln, have also contributed to some of CPO’s other on-going recordings of Telemann’s massive output, including all eight volumes of his Wind Concertos, now also available as a set (7779392, target price £51).   Back in 2008 I recommended Volume 2 of that series as a good place to start a Telemann collection but the current recording would be equally recommendable.

I’ve already lost count of the number of recordings of Telemann on CPO but it’s easily overtaken but not supplanted the other very valuable series of releases from Collegium Musicum 90 and Simon Standage on Chandos.

Another very distinguished series of recordings from Reinhard Goebel with Musica Antiqua Köln has fallen victim to the deletions axe – several of the albums are now download only – but it happens that one of the best places to start is available at a specially reduced price as I write: £6.46 from Presto (E4137882).  It contains Telemann’s so-called Water Music (Hamburger Ebb’ und Fluth) plus three concertos, one of which is TWV44:41, included on the new CPO recording.

Those who know Goebel’s reputation for breakneck tempi may be surprised to discover that he takes the music very slightly more slowly than Schneider all round – a model of elegance by comparison with some of his Bach recordings and setting a very high benchmark.  Goebel seems to have gone out of his way on this recording to live down his fiery reputation, with a very graceful, almost sluggish, rendition of the Water Music Overture: 9:31 against 7:27 (King’s Consort, Hyperion – see below).  I think, however, that Schneider and his team marginally surpass their DG forebears: either version of this concerto for seven instruments (also listed as a Septet) is very satisfying.  So far as I can tell, these are the only two recordings in the catalogue.  If you already have the Water Music – perhaps in my recommended version from the King’s Consort on Hyperion (with Handel Water Music: CDA66967 from, Archive Service or download) – that would clinch the issue in favour of the new CPO.

I’m pleased to see how many good recordings of Telemann there have been recently.  We seem to have missed a late 2016 account of the Water Music [22:06] and Concerto in C, TWV54 B:2* [9:56] from a period-instrument group new to the scene, the Swedish Hoör Barock, directed by Dan Laurin (recorder), coupled with Corelli (Op.6/4 [8:58] and Op.6/8 [13:52] arranged for recorders) and Bach (Harpsichord Concerto in F, BWV1057 [14:01]).  On BIS-SACD-2235 [69:07] I downloaded it in 24/96 sound, with pdf booklet, from

The playing is best described as enthusiastic rather than spot-on accurate but don’t take that as a criticism: the enthusiasm is infectious and it makes an enjoyable release.  The Water Music Overture even shaves something off the timing of the King’s Consort without matching the litheness of that recording, but that’s a rare example where I would have liked a little more of the gusto evident on the rest of the album.  The jolly sailors in the final Canarie roll around as rowdily as any that I know.

There are just three other recordings of the opening concerto on the new CPO release, TWV52:c1, of which I listened to Camerata Köln on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (download only, with other Telemann woodwind concertos).  Good as that is, the new CPO recording has nothing to fear from it.

TWV53:D2, with its prominent trumpet part, has several recordings to its credit, from such luminaries as John Wilbraham (with ASMF/Neville Marriner, Decca Eloquence, 2 CDs), Crispian Steele-Perkins (with ECO/Anthony Halstead, budget-price Alto, or with Tafelmusik/Jeanne Lamon, Sony budget-price download), Maurice André (with ASMF/Neville Marriner, Warner download) and Håkon Hardenberger (with ASMF/Iona Brown, Presto CD or download).  Once again, however, unless you want the couplings on any of the rivals – the Eloquence is a rather special offering, released as part of the ASMF’s 50th anniversary celebrations, including some of their earliest recordings – the CPO is as good as any of the competition.

The release of Volume 4 also provided an easy excuse to listen to the whole series of these concertos to date, not that any excuse was really needed to listen to these very fine recordings of Telemann’s equivalent of Vivaldi’s concerti con molti stromenti.  Oddly enough, the first work on the new release is mistakenly attributed on its singular manuscript to Sig. Wiwaldi.  The attribution is wrong but it speaks for the quality of the music.

At the same time as the latest volume of the Grand Concertos, CPO have released La Stagione and Michael Schneider in the six Op.7 Symphonies of Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787) (WKO13-18) on 7779932 [61:22].  I listened to that too as downloaded in lossless format from (NO booklet) and as streamed from Naxos Music Library (with pdf booklet).  CD from Amazon UK or Presto.  It appears to be the only current recording of these historically important works by a pupil of JS Bach and a friend of JC (‘London’) Bach who probably met Mozart in London; an earlier, not entirely satisfactory, Chandos album featuring Cantilena is reported as out of stock, though available to download (CHAN8648).

Lovers of Telemann’s music may wish to note the first recording of his Reformations-Oratorium (Reformation Oratorio), Holder Friede, Heil’ger Glaube, TWV13:18, a late work from 1755 performed by Regula Mühlemann (soprano), Daniel Johannsen (tenor), Benjamin Appl (baritone) and Stephan MacLeod (bass); Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie/Reinhard Goebel SONY CLASSICAL 88985373872 [60:44].  CD from Amazon UK or Presto.  Composed to celebrate the bi-centenary of the Augsburg Confession, it’s a large-scale work in two parts, to be delivered on either side of a sermon.

I can’t claim that the oratorio is an urgent recommendation or even that it’s more important than the many recordings of Telemann which Goebel made with his Musica Antiqua Köln for the DG Archiv label or, indeed, the CPO series, but I don’t imagine that there will be a rival recording any time soon.  Subscribers to Naxos Music Library should at least try it when it appears there.

To return to the headline release, let me reiterate that the music is varied and the performances do it full justice.  Though 16-bit only – there’s no SACD or 24-bit download – the CPO recording is very good and the notes informative: I’m pleased to see that CPO are now offering the notes in full with downloads instead of the cut-down versions previously available.  Only Naxos Music Library, however, also offer the CD insert which contains the recording details.  If you choose this latest volume and haven’t yet obtained its predecessors, be warned that you are likely to want them too.  If TWV44:41 appeals, for example, you will want its ‘partner’ TWV44:42 – the Goebel CD mentioned above pairs them – on Volume 1 of the CPO series.

Just as I was completing this review another recording of Telemann concertos for multiple instruments appeared from Harmonia Mundi, coincidentally using the Italian title which I had employed to describe the CPO set.  There are no overlaps between the contents and both are very well played and recorded.  The Harmonia Mundi is available in 24-bit sound – at the same price as 16-bit initially, thereafter about 50% more expensive – but the 16-bit-only CPO is pretty good, too.

The music on Harmonia Mundi is perhaps slightly more immediate in appeal than on CPO where some of the works are more adventurous but hardly difficult to engage with: you can’t really go wrong with Telemann.  If, like me, you have a penchant for the mandolin, probably nurtured by Troise and his Mandoliers, who used to perform light classical and middle-of-the-road music years ago on the old BBC Light Programme and were recorded by Decca**, you should, sample this arrangement of TWV 53:F1 (tracks 16-18), normally performed with three solo violins, as delightful in this version as anything that Vivaldi wrote which included that instrument, especially as here in company with the dulcimer and harp. 

You may be wondering what the ‘calchedon’ is (TWV53:h1): it’s a member of the lute family which Telemann employed in 400 of his compositions; there’s an illustration in the booklet.  The Dresden version of this concerto recorded here is claimed a world premiere: there’s another copy preserved in Darmstadt.

It’s a shame that for Akademie für Alte Musik to have given us the whole of TWV 43:G5, instead of just one movement, would have brought the time to over 80 minutes – but we’ve had several recent CDs which exceeded that nominal limit.  At the very least it could have been offered as a bonus with the download.

Go for both of these very enjoyable recordings if you can.

* All the BIS documentation says ‘in C’ but it’s usually played in B-flat, as on CPO 7778902, Volume 2 of the Grand Concerto series.

** where they also seem to have recorded as the Neapolitan Novel Orchestra with Gigli.

Brian Wilson


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