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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]

Telemann, one of the greatest late Baroque composers, wrote prodigiously in many genres. leaving a wealth of inventive works. Entitled ‘Chameleon - Chamber Music in Changing Colours’, the programme played here by New Collegium has been chosen to demonstrate the varied palette found in Telemann’s works.

I am constantly drawn to Telemann’s chamber music, and this new release centres around a Suite of eight mainly short movements taken from Der getreue Music-Meister (The Faithful Music Master). Published around 1728-29, this music periodical provided amateur performers with new works in a diverse combination of instruments. Beautifully played by New Collegium, these pieces are diverse in character, offering real melodic charm and instrumental colour.

Presented in a palindromic arrangement either side of the Suite are a number of sonatas and minuets taken from both his Hamburg publications and others that remain in manuscript. The first and last works on the set are the Prélude and Modéré from the Quartet No. 6 (‘Paris Quartets’), TWV 43:e4 published in 1737/38. These movements are part of a collection of quartets described in the notes by Steven Zohn as a “potent mixture of French suavity with Italian brilliance”; I find them hauntingly atmospheric in character. There are four separate Menuets taken from two sets published in Hamburg in 1728 and 1730, works devised to be performed in “multiple configurations.” These works have a stately feeling and it is easy to imagine them being played in court and in the general chamber music circles of the day.

In the first half of the album, are the Trio Sonata in A minor for recorder, violin and continuo - a work thought to have been written in 1726 - and the Trio Sonata in G major for violin, cello and continuo. The second half of the album contains a pair of early works which are thought to be from the early years of the eighteenth century. First the Trio in A major for two violins and continuo entitled on one manuscript as a ‘Concerto,’ an uncommon example of the composer using scordatura, an unconventional tuning technique for the violins. There is also the Quartet in G minor scored for recorder, violin, viola and continuo. New Collegium perform these three Trios and the Quartet thoughtfully, with accomplished control, affording both style and alert conviction.

New Collegium, directed from the harpsichord by Claudio Ribeiro, is in fine form throughout this Telemann collection, breathing life into this delightful and often beautiful music. The six members of the group use period instruments (or modern copies) which have a consistently appealing tone and articulate the music cleanly; their level of ensemble is impeccable, too. I relish the warm and impressively phrased playing of Inês d’Avena in those works which include the recorder or flute. The sound engineers provide first class sound which is slightly closely recorded but has clarity and excellent balance. Steven Zohn’s interesting booklet notes are extremely helpful.

For those new to Telemann’s chamber music, my first-choice single album recommendation is the collection of Trios and Quartets with viola da gamba quite marvellously performed by La Rêveuse on Mirare. This new album by New Collegium on Ramée runs the finest Telemann recordings I know very close and is certainly worthy of inclusion in a selective Telemann collection.

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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