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Telemann Wind Concertos volume 7

Telemann: Wind Concertos, volume 7 | La Stagione Frankfurt

  • Concerto in C minor for oboe
  • Concerto à 4 in F for 2 chalumeaux
  • Concerto in A for 2 flutes
  • Concerto in F for Recorder
  • Concerto in D minor for 2 chalumeaux
  • Concerto in D major for hunting horn

My first introduction to Telemann’s “wind concertos” was a recording released on DG Archiv by Musica Antiqua, Köln of Blasermusik. More recently, Michael Sneider has been taking a more comprehensive approach, releasing several volumes-worth on the CPO label. I more recently this past November reviewed the later volume 8 in the set.

Apt comparisons, I think to Telemann, are works by Fasch, Albinoni, Heinichen, Bach, and even Vivaldi. Between those composers, they did not have the output for wind concertos that Telemann produced, but they did prefer a 3-movement design. In most cases with these concertos, Telemann takes preference for the 4-movement design (an exception being the final concerto for horn, in 3 movements). Vivaldi did write a number of concertos for single winds (flute, oboe, bassoon) but also wrote concertos for ensembles of wind concertinos (as Telemann does here, using chalumeaux, and flutes).

This disc is of very similar quality to the previously reviewed volume in the series. The recorded sound is good, and the playing is very well executed. In terms of interpretation, the performers (both soloists and the ensemble) are not set out to break any new, innovative ground. Their tempo choices make the music, perhaps, several notches more exciting than the style we expected of British ensembles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It’s one notch below, perhaps, the drama introduced by Italian ensembles around the turn of this century. Therefore, these become excellent “textbook” examples that showcase Telemann’s art and diversity in this form, the woodwind concerto.

For my taste, these concertos are just a notch (stealing again my allusion to the volume dial of an amplifier) too polite and gentrified. Telemann’s style is light and simple, surely the music would never offend. It can be fanciful, but for me, it’s like sugar free candy. I get the sense that it was composed for scenarios where the music wouldn’t be enjoyed as a profound conversation piece. Instead, it would be background music to something more enjoyable.

Ouch. The piece familiar to me is the TWV 52:d1 for 2 chalumeaux (predecessor to the modern clarinet), which, for me at least, is at least a little more interesting. The third movement, for me, is very special, however, I think Musica Antiqua Köln’s interpretation was better; in this one the speed drags just a little for my taste. The players in La Stagione Frankfurt, do however, employ a slow vibrato technique that is rather interesting. But they play too shyly. This is one of Telemann’s gems. I’d play it out.

For me, Fasch, Heinichen, and the others I mentioned, have better examples in the wind concerto repertoire. Nevertheless, if you want more of the diet by Telemann, these performances do not betray the composer who seemed to have no trouble with prolific output. Sadly he sacrificed, perhaps, quality for the quantity.

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