Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Music of piety, fun and good-will

Telemann: Cantatas Aller Augen warten; In Christo gilt weder Beschneidung; Ich bin der erste; Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwangert

I confess to not being a good enough Baroque scholar to be able to tell apart the French Cycle of Telemann's annual church cantatas from his Italian cycle. It's true that these four works, two of which were written for performance between during 1716/17, and the other two for 1719/20, all have a light and bouncy, almost popular feel to them, which has us looking south of the Alps. The ebb and flow of vocal soloists, choir and orchestra conceivably points to the concerted Italian instrumental works flowing from the great school of Arcangelo Corelli. These are immensely attractive works, with insistent rhythms, splendid melodies and heartfelt messages of hope and love. The music sounds like Bach at times, but Telemann's own voice is clear, especially in the magical Chorale that ends the cantata Ich bin der erste, with a simple chorale theme sung by the choir set against a descant played by the clarino trumpet. Here's the soprano part, from the autograph score facsimile at the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library.

As Vincent Vega says in Pulp Fiction, "It's the little differences."

CPO has perhaps helped to move the needle of Telemann's reputation a slight bit with their generally excellent cantata releases, usually from North German ensembles. This recording from Mannheim was made in 2016, and the disc has already been released in Germany, to generally positive reviews. I was certainly convinced by these performances; there's a feeling of piety, but also fun and good-will that's much stronger than any sense of erudite re-creation by musician scholars.  It will be released in North America on June 8, 2018.

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