The name Oberlinger wasn’t first caught my attention with this CD of baroque recorder concertos. It was the guest conductor, of course, Reinhard Goebel. The Ensemble, however, is Oberlinger’s and the liner notes report that she has been inviting guest conductors to work with her and Ensemble 1700. The names Deuter and Waisman are certainly not new to my music collection, so before the CD even began to spin, I had high expectations.
The program is set around a “new” concerto by Telemann, set in three movements in G minor. The attribution isn’t terribly important, as the quality of the writing is high enough that a famous name not need be associated with authorship. She follows that with an authenticated Telemann concerto in C TWV 51:C. A Graupner overture in F follows, a kind of companion to Telemann’s more famous suite in A minor. The concert finishes with a G-major concerto in 3 movements from Johann Christoph Schultze.
Ensemble 1700 is an admirable collection of musicians, set distant enough to allow the recorders (4 models in all employed) by Oberlinger to shine against their sound. The new Telemann work, as I already mentioned, is nice. The second one is already familiar, in a more traditional 4-movement design. It took me some time before I found it hiding on a recording made in 1990 by the New London Consort with Philip Pickett. Speaking of sound quality, Oberlinger’s recording is better. Her tempo also pushes a little more, too.
Graupner and Schultze are not as well-known to readers, I am confident. The liner notes fill us in on these two personalities; Graupner is described as a composer whose music is not “immediately accessible”. Think Heinichen and Telemann, from a style standpoint. You begin to get a fuller flavor of what late Baroque Germany was like, for sure. There are some nice moments, for sure, both in the slower movements that allow the flute to extemporize on top, and in the more toe-tapping dances, too. At the end of the day, I value having music new to me to help me better understand the period. The same music showcases what’s so special about the composers today that are better known: the same Telemann, Heinichen, and of course, Bach.
Schultze, having died in 1813, really is dating himself with a recorder concerto. But the style is far closer to Telemann’s than, say, a Haydn or Mozart. Not a lot is known about the work; for all we know, it could have been a lost relic, something of an early work. What’s clear, however, is that the composer knew something about the instrument, throwing in virtuosity that causes delight in the listener, if not a workout for performers like Oberlinger.
In the end, the music here is well-chosen to highlight the “swan song” of the recorder as a virtuoso member of the chamber orchestra, centered around the late-German baroque style that is best today illustrated by Telemann. You’d be hard pressed to convince most that the whole lot wasn’t Telemann. Despite being expertly played, none of the music stands-out as exquisite. The last movement, inspires me interestingly enough to get into a convertible driving in a mountainous countryside, with the stereo turned up full tilt. It’s a happy, open-air type of affair, perfect for leading up to something grander: a reunion with friends, an outdoor picnic, or an appetizer to something more substantial.