I was absolutely thrilled with the first Barn Cottage Records disc I reviewed for Classical.net, which included the eternally popular Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (Barn Cottage BCR009). This disc is better, because unless you are a Telemann buff, you probably don't own these pieces. As this stunningly-recorded, beautifully-played disc proves convincingly, you should. Not only does this album show the composer at his best, but it continues this label's commitment to adventurous, interesting programming.
For a composer of higher repute than Bach during his lifetime, Telemann hasn't fared especially well in remaining popular. That doesn't make him an inferior composer in any way, and I certainly prefer his music to say, Corelli's Concerti Grossi. In fact, I prefer much of this music to Vivaldi's. It's remarkably varied in mood, colored beautifully, with a natural gift for counterpoint. What's more, none of it is well known, and so there is a sense of discovery about the project that is refreshing. The acoustics of Saint James Church in Surrey are just delightful; warm and spacious with a real sense of air about the notes.
The three musicians (Annabel Knight, flute and recorder; Reiko Ichise, viola de gamba; Robin Bigwood, harpsichord) are obviously having a good deal of fun. I liked how the harpsichord didn't overpower anything, as sometimes happens in these productions. Robin Bigwood's accomplishment of making me appreciate, rather than ignore, the harpsichord parts is no small feat. He makes the notes dance, and come alive. And speaking of dancing, rarely have I heard such fine recorder and flute playing. Annabel Knight is incredibly gifted. Reiko Ichise is just as wonderful, and completes as fine a chamber trio of this type as I have heard.
Barn Cottage Records deserves a good deal of praise for such good products. Everything I've heard so far has been worth it; this disc's very generous 68 minutes flew by and I simply started over again. Really cool packaging and well written notes round out one of the more purely beautiful chamber music albums I have the pleasure of owning, Fantastic.
Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman