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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Chameleon - Chamber Music in Changing Colours
New Collegium/Claudio Ribeiro (harpsichord)
rec. 2018, Oude Kerk Zwijndrecht, The Netherlands
RAMÉE RAM1904 [73:52]

The booklet notes for this release have a quote from J.S. Bach in their first paragraph: “German musicians are expected to be capable of performing at once and ex tempore all kinds of music, whether it comes from Italy or France, England or Poland.” The text goes on to point out that this could as easily apply to composers, who had to be musical chameleons, supplying different styles to feed the ‘mixed taste’ of audiences of the day.

This well-chosen programme is a compendium of Telemann’s seemingly effortless skill in working from contrasting idioms, from the ornamental Parisian Nouveaux Quatours to the Germanic features of the so-called ‘Concerto’ in A major that harks back to the techniques of scordatura for which Biber remains well-known.

New Collegium, formerly known as Collegium Musicum Den Haag, is a compact ensemble of four and, for this recording at least, two additional musicians that has the knack of sounding full and rich and greater than the sum of its parts even when there are only three musicians involved. The generous acoustic of the Oude Kerk in Zwijndrecht helps in this regard, though there is plenty of detail in the recording, which is balanced to resist an over-acoustic sound.

All of the pieces here are highly enjoyable, though there are a few highlights. There is a delicious shivering effect in the Suite from Der getreue Music-Meister (The Faithful Music Master) in the opening movement L’hiver. The only example of pizzicato in Telemann’s sonatas is to be found in that Concerto in A major, to my ears in imitation of Italian mandolins at one point. The damped harpsichord, low violin and pizzicato cello of the Aria third movement is also memorable. The extrovert nature of the outer movements of the Quartet in G minor might recall the concerto style of Vivaldi, though the dialogue between the melody instruments keeps us firmly in chamber-music territory.

“No eighteenth-century composer was as adept at so many musical styles as Georg Philipp Telemann… [keeping] his music avant-garde throughout his lifetime.” With unusual and rarely-heard pieces forming a significant of this generous and imaginative programme this is a Baroque feast for the ears.

Dominy Clements

Previous review: Michael Cookson

1. Prélude from 6e Quatuor in e minor, TWV 43:e4 (Nouveaux Quatuors en Six Suites, Paris 1738) [4:53]
2-5. Trio Sonata a flauto dolce, violino e cembalo in a minor, TWV 42:a [10:23]
6. Menuet 17 in C, TWV 34:67 (Zweites Sieben mal Sieben und ein Menuet, Hamburg 1730) [1:11]
7-9. Trio Sonata a violino, violoncello e basso in G, TWV 42:G7 [12:13]
10. Menuet 38 in F, TWV 34:88 (Zweites Sieben mal Sieben und ein Menuet, Hamburg 1730) [1:06]
Suite taken from Der getreue Music-Meister:
11. L'hiver [01:38]
12. Vite (transposed) [01:09]
13. Largo [02:01]
14. Ouverture à la Polonoise [04:08]
15. Sans-Souci [01:31]
16. Alla breve [01:27]
17. Lento [02:17]
18. Pastourelle [1:23]
19. Menuet 7 in a minor TWV 34:57 (Zweites Sieben mal Sieben und ein Menuet, Hamburg 1730) [1:16] 20-23. Trio Sonata (Concerto à 3 – 2 violini discordati e violone) in A, TWV Anh. 42:A1* [12:15]
24. Menuet 48 in G, TWV 34:48 (Sieben mal Sieben und ein Menuet, Hamburg 1728) [1:15]
25-27. Quartet in g minor, TWV 43:g4** [8:43]
28. Modéré from 6e Quatuor in e minor TWV 43:e4 (Nouveaux Quatuors en Six Suites, Paris 1738) [4:50]

New Collegium: Inês d’Avena (alto recorder in F, voice flute in D, soprano recorder in C); Sara DeCorso (violin); Antina Hugosson (violin)*; John Ma (viola)** Rebecca Rosen (cello); Claudio Ribeiro (harpsichord / direction)

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