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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Suite and Concertos for recorder and strings
Suite in A minor, TWV 55 a2
Concerto in F major, TWV 51 F1
Concerto di camera in G minor, TWV 43 g3
Concerto in C major, TWV 51 C1
Chaconne from Suite in F minor, TWV 55 f1
La Simphonie du Marais/Hugo Reyne
rec. 2017, Church of Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon Vendée, France
HUGO VOX 001 [66:19]

Aside from a number of sonatas for recorder, Telemann also composed an attractive and idiomatic clutch of concertante works for the instrument, as opposed to the transverse flute. This disc focuses on repertoire written for the recorder as the only solo instrument, rather than in combination with others. The most extensive, and probably the greatest, of the compositions under that category is the Suite in A minor which, as has often been observed, is almost something of a musical dead ringer for Bach’s Orchestral Suite in B minor BWV1067 which similarly features a solo flute against strings.

Reyne’s performance of the Suite with the ensemble La Simphonie du Marais sets the elegant and well-mannered temper for the rest of the disc, taking the sequence of dances with an ideal balance between poise and rhythmic vim. The typically French dotted rhythm of the Overture is played with composure rather than being clipped, and gives way to the orderly scurry of its fast section, over which the recorder plays daintily. The subsequent movements are well characterised, but kept within dignified bounds, such as the jaunty Minuet II and La Réjouissance, coming after the more stately Minuet I; the Air Italien is exactly like a da capo aria from an opera seria with its melancholy and slow principal section, contrasting with the speedy middle section in which the recorder almost flutter-tongues its way through the semiquavers.

Refined, even delicate interpretations mark the Concertos in F major and C major, which follow Telemann’s usual four movement pattern, though they are rounded off with a cultural nod to France in their Minuet finales. The galant tendencies of these two works – seemingly comparatively late works, from the 1730s when that style was coming into vogue – are generally well brought out by the performers, although Reyne sets quite a sprightly pace for the Minuet of the C major Concerto. Some stretches of the writing for the solo recorder elsewhere are notably virtuosic, and given its fairly high pitch the fast movements will put one in mind of Vivaldi’s concertos for flautino or sopranino recorder, even though it is an alto recorder used here, and Reyne’s supple technique is a wonder to hear. The continuo’s ostinato figure in the Adagio third movement of the F major Concerto also rather resembles that of the second movement of the Concerto No. 8 in A minor from Vivaldi’s seminal Op.3 set (L’estro armonico) which Telemann surely knew.

In between those Concertos comes the smaller scale Concerto di camera, written for recorder, two violins, and basso continuo. It is played with taste and discretion – except, some may feel, for the brief cheeky reference to the Badinerie from Bach’s Suite mentioned above, as an embellishment to one of the first movement’s episodes. Reyne offers a sober account of the Chaconne from the Suite in F minor as an encore to the programme.

With space available on the disc, it is a pity that one of the double concertos was not included instead. Nevertheless it is a delightful release and serves as a more stylish alternative to the similar, though not identical, programme on Naxos by Daniel Rothert with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra which is heavy-handed and plodding by comparison (review), as well as a competitive alternative to the version by Peter Holtslag and The Parley of Instruments (review), although Reyne has a way to go before catching up with a complete survey of Telemann’s recorder music as Dan Laurin and Clas Pehrsson have achieved (review).

Curtis Rogers

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