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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Telemann Polonoise
Polish-inspired music in arrangements by Judith and Tineke Steenbrink
Aisslinn Nosky (violin)
Holland Baroque
rec. Musis, Arnhem, The Netherlands, August 2020. DDD/DSD
Reviewed as downloaded from press access
PENTATONE PTC5186878 SACD [67:50]

Several fine recordings exist of the music which Telemann composed with Polish music as his inspiration, either as part of a wider programme or, as here, bringing several such pieces together in one programme. What is different about Holland Baroque’s concept is that works in this style for various instruments or combinations have been arranged by Judith and Tineke Steenbrink for strings and continuo. In the case of the two concertos, TWV43:B3 and TWV43:G7, little arrangement would have been required, but even the rest of the programme works well.

I’ll deal with my reservations first. Apart from the two concertos and the Partie or Suite, TWV39, originally for two lutes, which were recorded live long ago by Julian Bream and John Williams on two guitars (G0100033894309, mid-price download), the programme is rather bitty, but the order of arrangement of the shorter pieces partly negates that criticism.

The G major concerto, TWV43:G7 can also be found on a recording by Ensemble Masques (Alpha 256 – Spring 2017/2). That’s a valuable collection, not least in that it includes some of Telemann’s less recorded music, including the only version of the Suite in A, TWV55:A1. (Not to be confused with the oft-recorded Suite in a minor). Ensemble Masques and Olivier Fortin give a lively and idiomatic performance, bringing out the Polish influences, but without disguising the inevitable French and Italian elements and Telemann’s North German fusion of them. Holland Baroque also bring out all the elements of the music – the booklet specifically comments on them – and, if anything, they are slightly more alive to the sheer joy of the music: the allegro second movement comes with some of the most accomplished and liveliest playing of Telemann’s music that you are likely to hear.

The Concertos in G and B-flat can be found on a 1999 recording by Musica Antiqua KŲln and Reinhard Goebel on a collection of Telemann’s music from DG Archiv (4630742, download, or Presto special CD). Goebel has always had something of a reputation as a speed merchant, but these concertos fare very well in his hands. What he does to a greater extent than either Holland Baroque or Ensemble Masques is to emphasise the rhythm, partly though greater use of double-dotting. The effect is at once to make the music sound livelier – though his tempi are actually mostly very slightly slower than Holland Baroque’s – but also to chop up the flow of the music. You pays your money and you takes your pick; I enjoyed both. Another collection of Goebel’s Telemann on a DG Classikon collection, no longer available, is actually one of my favourite recordings of the composer. (As reissued on DG Archiv Blue, 4742302, download or Presto special CD, it's shorn of the final e minor concerto, reducing the playing time to 51 minutes.)

Goebel is also slightly slower on his feet in the B-flat concerto, though no less nimble, than Holland Baroque. Again, I could happily live with either or, indeed, with the only other recording generally available, from Arte dei Suonatori and Martin Gester (BIS-1979 SACD – review DL News 2013/3).

With two fine recordings of two concertos that are competitive with such other recordings that there are of them, the Pentatone is an attractive release. Add the appeal of the shorter pieces and a recording well able to compete with the opposition, an informative set of notes, and this is an attractive addition to the Telemann discography. Even the 16-bit press preview sounds fine, but the commercial product is, like the BIS recording, available on SACD and in 24-bit sound.

I wouldn’t, however, want to be without some representation of Reinhard Goebel’s Telemann in my collection or, indeed, of the many recordings of his music which Simon Standage and Collegium Musicum 90 made for Chandos. One of these includes an even more attractive Polish-influenced concerto, TWV53:E1 for flute, oboe d’amore, viola d’amore and strings (CHAN0580: Telemann Triple Concertos). To have recorded that, Holland Baroque would have had to recruit a flautist and an oboist, but their omission allows me to recommend the Chandos recording; that, too, contains some fine music well performed and recorded. Alternatively, the fact that the E major concerto is not included allows me to recommend the Chandos or an equally fine recording from La Stagione Frankfurt (CPO 7778592 – review, or 6-CD set 5554142).

Overall, I enjoyed hearing this new Pentatone; it’s a fine addition to the available recordings of Telemann. Though there are now many of these that are well worth your consideration, they still only scratch the surface of this prolific composer’s music, so the more recordings of this quality the better.

Brian Wilson

Poloniť, TWV45:
Poloniť 2 [3:28], Polonesie 3 [1:45], Polonesie 8 [1:11]
Allegro, TWV43:B2 [1:45]
Tourbillon, TWV55:D12 [1:52]
Polonoise, TWV55:a4 [3:17]
Poloniť, TWV45:
Polonesie 4 [2:03], Polonesie 17 and 18 [2:35],
Polonoise, Musette, BateliŤre, TWV 55:D13 [1:33 + 2:33 + 0.59]
Concerto Polonois in B-flat, TWV43:B3 [9:13]
Partie Polonois TWV39 [12:59]
Polonoise, TWV41:D4 [1:36]
Loure, TWV55:g4 [3:00]
Concerto Polonois in G, TWV43:G7 [8:33]
Poloniť, TWV 45 [3:09]
Hanaquoise, TWV 55:D3 [1:57]
Hanac, TWV 45 [1:01 + 1:34]
Hanasky, TWV 55:E1 [1:02]

Holland Baroque:
Aisslinn Nosky (violin)
Judith Steenbrink (violin)
Chloe Prendergast (violin)
Filip Rekieć (viola)
Tomasz Pokrzywinski (cello)
Christoph Sommer (lute)
Tineke Steenbrink (harpsichord)
Artistic leaders: Judith and Tineke Steenbrink



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