SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN = “Telemann in Minor”


Published on May 10, 2005

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN = “Telemann in Minor”
GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN = “Telemann in Minor” – Orchestral Suite in A
Minor for 2 oboes, bassoon, strings and basso continuo (world
premiere); Sonata in F Minor for 2 violins, 2 violas, cello and basso
continuo; Concerto in E Minor for flute, violin, strings and basso
continuo; Sonata in B-flat Major for 2 violins, 2 violas, cello and
basso continuou; Concerto in E Minor for 2 flutes, violin, strings and
basso continuo – Pratum Integrum Orchestra (historical instruments);
Pavel Serbin, artistic director – Caro Mitis multichannel SACD CM
0042004, 57:20 ****:

Pratum Integrum is the
only original-instrument orchestra in Russia and one of the few
ensembles specializing in early music. The members are nearly all very
young but also very skilled. The entire package is beautifully designed
and carried out, with an informative note booklet decorated with lovely
medieval-looking artwork along the sides. The actual disc is imprinted
with what looks like a Classical period dish design – one of the most
striking optical disc printing jobs I have seen. The 5-channel
recordings for this Russian label are made by Netherlands-based
Polyhymnia International and are of great clarity and focus, with the
surrounds giving a fine impression of the concert space – which was a
studio of the Russian TV and Radio Company in Moscow large enough to
hold both a symphony orchestra and an audience. Such studios are no
longer overly-deadened with excessive absorbtive materials as was once
the fashion in the Soviet period. (Then Melodiya would add
metallic-sounding artificial reverb in mastering.)

Telemann
was the leading composer of his time, getting much more attention than
J.S. Bach. Yet much of his music has yet to be recorded and
appreciated. The title of this disc may be a bit corny (reminding me of
program themes of the late radio host Karl Haas) but it is a challenge
to present several similar works by composers as prolific as Telemann;
Vivaldi concertos present a similar problem. The newly-presented
Orchestral Suite sports ten short movements (one only 58 seconds) in
mostly dance forms. It is fresh sounding and more than that rather
French-sounding – almost reminding one of Rameau’s suites. The other
four works use standard tempo markings for the movements, which are
four except for one concerto with five movements. The soloists on flute
and oboe are exceptional. Tempi are occasionally break-neck, but
without the slightest missed notes. (Made me think of the recent news
item alleging that some classical soloists were taking
performance-enhancing drugs to play faster; somehow seems unlikely in
Russia.) Both Italian and French musical influences are heard, and most
such Telemann works end with very happy-sounding and tuneful finales.

- John Sunier




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