musica Dei donum
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767): Concertos for wind instruments
[I] "Wind Concertos Vol. 6"
Michael Schneider, recordera, transverse fluteb; Martin Hublow, recorderc; Karl Kaiser, piccolo fluted, transverse flutee; Luise Baumgartlf, Martin Stadlerh, oboe; Marita Schaar, bassoonl; Ulrich Hübnern, Jörg Schulteßo, horn
rec: Sept 2007, Feb & Oct 2009, Cologne, Deutschlandfunk (Kammermusiksaal)
CPO - 777 402-2 (© 2011) (64'02")
Cover & track-list
Concerto for 'flauto pastorale', strings and bc in D (TWV 51,D3)d;
Concerto for 2 horns, strings and bc in F (TWV 52,F3)no;
Concerto for oboe, strings and bc in a minor (TWV 51,a1)h;
Concerto for 2 oboes, bassoon, strings and bc in C 'Concerto alla francese' (TWV 53,C1)fhl;
Concerto for 2 recorders, strings and bc in B flat (TWV 52,B1)ac;
Concerto for transverse flute, strings and bc in b minor (TWV 51,h1)e;
Concerto for 2 transverse flutes, bassoon, strings and bc in D (TWV 53,D1)bel
[II] "Wind Concertos Vol. 7"
Michael Schneider, recordera, transverse fluteb; Karl Kaiser, transverse flutee; Luise Baumgartl, oboef; Lorenzo Coppola, Tindaro Capuano, chalumeauj; Sergio Azzolinik, Marita Schaarl, bassoon; Jörg Schulteß, corno da cacciap
rec: Oct 2009, Feb 2010 & Jan 2011, Cologne, Deutschlandfunk (Kammermusiksaal)
CPO - 999 907-2 (© 2011) (67'02")
Cover & track-list
Concerto for 2 chalumeaux, strings and bc in d (TWV 52,d1)j;
Concerto (Quartetto) for 2 chalumeaux, 2 violins in unison and bc in F (TWV 43,F2)j;
Concerto for corno da caccia, strings and bc in D (TWV 51,D8)p;
Concerto for oboe, strings and bc in c minor (TWV 51,c2)f;
Concerto for recorder, bassoon, strings and bc in F (TWV 52,F1)ak;
Concerto for 2 transverse flutes, bassoon, strings and bc in A (TWV 53,A1)bel
[III] "Wind Concertos Vol. 8"
Karl Kaisere, Michael Schneiderb, transverse flute; Hans-Peter Westermann, oboei; Luise Baumgartl, oboe d'amoreg; Lorenzo Coppola, Tindaro Capuano, chalumeauj; Marita Schaar, bassoonl; Hannes Rux, trumpetm; Ulrich Hübnern, Jörg Schulteßo, horn
rec: Feb 2009, Feb 2010 & Jan 2011, Cologne, Deutschlandfunk (Kammermusiksaal)
CPO - 999 951-2 (© 2012) (69'38")
Cover & track-list
Concerto for 2 chalumeaux, two bassoons ripieni, strings and bc in C (TWV 52,C1)j;
Concerto for 2 horns, strings and bc in F (TWV 52,F4)no;
Concerto for oboe d'amore, strings and bc in G (TWV 51,G3)g;
Concerto for oboe, 2 violins and bc in D (TWV 51,D5)i;
Concerto for 2 transverse flutes, bassoon, strings and bc in a minor (TWV 53,a1)bel;
Concerto (Quartetto) for trumpet, 2 oboes and bc in D (TWV 43,D7)m
The concertos for one or more solo instruments and strings are a lesser-observed part of Telemann's oeuvre. He himself didn't rate them highly, and preferred the form of the orchestral overture. However, that didn't prevent him from composing a large quantity of such concertos. They are a mixture of Italian and French elements, and in most cases he prefers the four-movement form of the Corellian sonata da chiesa rather than the Vivaldian three-movement solo concerto. Also notable is the use of unusual combinations of instruments, and the contrasting way in which he explores the features of the various instruments. This review concerns the last three volumes in CPO's project of the recording of Telemann's complete output of concertos with solo parts for wind instruments.
Vol. 6 begins with the Concerto in b minor (TWV 51,h1) for transverse flute, one of the most extended solo concertos from Telemann's oeuvre. It is in three movements; the opening presto is in ABA form; the largo is a wonderfully expressive piece. Very different is the Concerto in D (TWV 53,D3) for an instrument which Telemann called flauto pastorale; it is not known exactly which instrument he meant. It is performed here at the piccolo, because the concerto includes imitations of the nightingale, and in his opera Orpheus Telemann prescribes piccolos in an aria which refers to birds. The whole concerto, which has the nickname of Concerto polonoise, reflects Telemann's interest in traditional Polish and Moravian music which comes to the fore in all four movements.
His admiration for the French style is well documented. Two concertos bear witness to that. The Concerto in C (TWV 53,C3) is nicknamed Concerto alla francese, and has four movements with French titles. They refer to the character or the tempo - très vite, tendrement - but most of them are in fact dances. The opening movement - avec douceur - is in the form of a rondeau. The scoring is for two oboes and bassoon, the common scoring of orchestal overtures in French style as frequently written by Telemann and some of his colleagues, such as Fasch and Graupner. The Concerto in B flat (TWV 52,B1) has the same trademarks: here the two first movements have an Italian title, the next two are in French. The second movement has the form of a mirror: the second half is the reverse of the first. The last movement is dominated by brilliant sixteenth figures which appear not only in the recorder parts but also in the strings.
This disc includes another triple concerto, the fourth from a cycle of concertos in the French style. They have the same superscription in French, Concert par moi Telemann. The solo instruments - two transverse flutes and bassoon - are also referred to with their French names. In this project these six concertos are divided over the various volumes, starting with Vol. 3. Although some of the movements have Italian titles, these hide French dances. The last movement from the Concerto in D (TWV 53,D1) is a menuet in the form of a rondeau.
The Concerto in a minor (TWV 51,a1) has been preserved as a violin concerto. In his liner-notes Wolfgang Hirsch argues that its character suggests that the oboe is the more suitable instrument. It is in three movements: the opening adagio is followed by an allegro and a presto. This is quite remarkable, even though the second movement ends with a short slow section. That is in the style of an accompanied recitative, just like the opening adagio, one of the most beautiful movements on this disc.
Telemann composed various concertos for two horns. This disc ends with one of them, the Concerto in F (TWV 52,F3). Telemann would not be Telemann if he didn't come up with a surprise. It was quite common that brass instruments were silent in slow movements but here the composer includes them in the third movement, a siciliana. The horns are surprisingly well-suited to contribute to this movement's pastoral character. It is in the second movement that the horns show their origins as hunting instruments.
In Vol. 7 we meet the horn again. The disc ends with the Concerto in D (TWV 51,D8) for horn solo which is technically very demanding. It is assumed that Telemann wrote it for a specific virtuoso. He has to play in a very high register, in particular in the first of the three movements. The frequent passagework makes the solo part even more complicated. As in the double concerto in Volume 6, the horn here is also involved in the slow movement.
This disc begins with one of Telemann's oboe concertos; the Concerto in c minor is probably an early composition in which Telemann doesn't include ritornellos. The oboe starts the proceedings with the strings, and hardly ever keeps silent. This piece comes close to the concerto da camera in which all instruments are treated more or less equally.
The Concerto in F for two chalumeaux and violins in unison belongs to the same category. It is the first time the chalumeau turns up in this project. It was developed in the late 17th century and further improved by Johann Christoph Denner, who is also considered the inventor of the clarinet. The chalumeau was built in various sizes: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. It is often seen as a predecessor of the clarinet, but that is incorrect: for some time the two instruments existed alongside each other. The chalumeau was especially popular in southern Germany and Austria, but Telemann and even more so his friend and colleague Christoph Graupner used it several times. Telemann composed three concertos for two chalumeaux, in the alto and the tenor ranges respectively. In the Concerto in F (TWV 43,F3) influences of Polish folk music turn up, which Telemann ingeniously combines with the da capo form in the second movement. The third movement has a trio texture. The Concerto in d minor (TWV 52,d1) couldn't be more different. Everyone who still thinks that Telemann composed only light-hearted stuff should listen to this piece which is full of pathos, thanks to frequent sighing figures and chromaticism. The slow movements are highly expressive, and the dark, somewhat muffled sound of the chalumeau is explored here to great effect. The fast movements do little to clear the air.
This volume includes one of Telemann's longest concertos, the Concerto in F (TWV 52,F1) with the uncommon scoring for recorder and bassoon, strings and bc. Such scorings are vintage Telemann: in his oeuvre one frequently finds pieces with unconventional instrumental combinations. Vol. 3 of this series, for instance, included a concerto da camera for recorder and horn. The Concerto in F is one of Telemann's better-known compositions and was included in a ground-breaking Telemann recording by the Concentus musicus Wien under Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Telefunken, 1966; later reissued on CD and still available). The two instruments are very different in character, but Telemann treats them on strictly equal terms and creates a remarkable interplay between them. The third movement has the character of an opera aria. This is one of the most 'Italianate' of concertos.
In contrast, the remaining Concerto in A is a further piece from the 'French cycle'; three of the four movements have Italian titles, but are dances in disguise. The closing allegro includes a musette; the movements of the solo instruments are juxtaposed by repeated rapidly descending figures in the strings.
Vol. 8, the last in the series, begins with the remaining concerto from the same cycle, the Concerto in a minor (TWV 53,a1). The opening lentement is a purely French piece, with dotted rhythms; the latter return in the closing movement. This disc includes another concerto for two horns which is quite different from the concerto in Volume 6. In the Concerto in F (TWV 52,F4) the horns are confined to their role as fanfare instruments in the two fast movements. The opening adagio is very short, less than one minute, and here the horns play colla parte with the strings. The latter are on their own in the expressive largo which contrasts sharply with the fast movements.
This disc includes two more pieces which could be considered concerti da camera: they are for three instruments and basso continuo. For some reason they have ended up in different departments in the Telemann catalogue. The relationship between the instruments is different, though. In the Concerto in D (TWV43,D7) the trumpet has the role of solo instrument, whereas the oboes mostly play ritornellos. The trumpet part is quite virtuosic, and the soloist makes it even more brilliant with his ornamentation in the closing vivace. In the Concerto in D (TWV 51,D5) the oboe and the two violins are treated on more equal terms, and the latter have a more independent role than the oboes in the other concerto.
The Concerto in C (TWV 52,C1) is Telemann's third concerto with chalumeau. Like the concerti da camera it is notable for its scoring. From beginning to end the strings play with mutes and are confined to the lower regions of their compass. This results in a dark and mellow sound, which is further enhanced by the addition of two bassoon parts which have the role of ripieno instruments. Often the chalumeaux - again one in alto, the other in the tenor range - play colla parte with the strings. Their parts in the largo have a great subtlety which is perfectly realised by the two soloists.
The disc ends with another of Telemann's large solo concertos, the Concerto in G (TWV 51,G3) for oboe d'amore. Wolfgang Hirschmann states that it is one of the most important concertos for this instrument from the first half of the 18th century. It shows various elements which also appear in other concertos such as the combination of a ritornello design with the da capo form, virtuosity in the solo part, polyphony and folkloristic influences. The adagio is a wonderful piece in which the oboe d'amore weaves a web over a continuous flow of chords from the quietly forward-moving strings.
With this concerto this major recording project comes to an end. It has to be considered one of the most important projects in recent years. Telemann's concertos for one or various solo instruments were a bit of an unknown quantity when it started, although some concertos had been recorded before and some had gained quite some popularity. However, this project allows to listen to Telemann's complete output in this department and compare and analyse the way he treats the various instruments. One of his virtues was his personal command of almost all instruments in vogue in his time. It allowed him to explore their specific features and make them truly shine. It must be a sheer delight to play them, just as it is a joy to listen to them.
La Stagione Frankfurt and Camerata Köln have done music lovers a great favour by recording these imaginative compositions. What is more, they have done Telemann a great favour by playing them in such a convincing and musically satisfying way. The solo parts are all given outstanding performances, and the tutti parts are equally well performed. This is a monument to one of the most creative musical minds in music history, whose apparently boundless imagination led to a large output of music which can't fail to compel, please and surprise today's audiences. These are discs you will return to regularly.
Lastly a word about the booklets. They contain informative liner notes by the Telemann scholar Wolfgang Hirschmann which give much insight into Telemann's compositional procedures. Be careful if you purchase Vol. 7: my copy had an incomplete booklet. The first part of the track-list was missing, which is very annoying. I searched the internet and found a site where I could download a complete copy. The booklet of Vol. 8 includes an index of the concertos which have been recorded with a reference to the volume in which they can be found. In his liner-notes Hirschmann gives a survey of the various compositions which are omitted from the series, for various reasons, especially their doubtful authenticity.
Johan van Veen (© 2014)
La Stagione Frankfurt