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CD Review

Georg Philipp Telemann

  • Concerto for Transverse Flute in G Major, TWV 51:G2
  • Concerto for Transverse Flute in D Major, TWV 51:D2
  • Concerto for Flute, Violin & Cello in A Major, TWV 53:A2 (From Tafelmusik I)
  • Concerto for 2 Flutes & Violine in A minor, TWV 53:a1
  • Concerto for Flute, Oboe d'amore & Viola d'amore in E Major, TWV 53:E1
Emmanuel Pahud, flute
Berliner Barock Solisten
EMI Classics 557397-2 DDD 66:26
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Once much maligned, Georg Philipp Telemann is recapturing his spot in the musical firmament. While his music generally lacks the joy and drive of Vivaldi's and the imposing genius of Bach's, it exemplifies order, proportion, and grace. Surely we need more of those qualities, especially at this point in human history.

Two of the works on this CD never have been recorded before. The manuscript to the G-major flute concerto (TWV 51:G2) was considered unplayable. The ink from one page had bled onto the next, and so it was difficult to decipher Telemann's intentions. Worse, large chunks of the continuo part were missing. The present reconstruction, by Arn Aske and Ulrike Feld, involves a lot of guesswork, but it is a stylistic triumph. The opening Andante, so reminiscent of the slow movement from Bach's Fifth Harpsichord Concerto, creates a gorgeously peaceful effect, and no one will doubt the reconstruction's validity with results this gratifying. The other première recording is of the concerto for two flutes and violone. (The violone is a bass viol.) There's no good reason why this work hasn't been recorded before, as it too is of a very high standard.

I also enjoyed the inclusion of a concerto for flute, violin, and cello from Telemann's seminal Tafelmusik. This collection is of a daunting size, yet performers seem afraid to play individual works from it, a practice Telemann is unlikely to have deplored. Allowing it to be played on its own makes a very appealing work available to a larger audience than usual.

All five concertos recorded here follow the Italian church sonata format: a slow movement is followed by a fast one, and then a second slow movement is followed by a second fast one. Nevertheless, the French style is often evident here. Telemann even used French movement titles in TWV 53:a1.

Emmanuel Pahud's series of Baroque and Classical CDs for EMI Classics has been an unbroken triumph. Last time around, he and the Berlin Baroque Soloists excelled in Bach – this time, they give us terrific Telemann. Pahud's poise is miraculous – easily on the level of Jean-Pierre Rampal, and the Berlin Baroque Soloists play their authentic instruments with natural, suave assurance. The musicianship is mellow but not tame.

Recorded in the studios of DeutschlandRadio, this CD offers ideal perspective and warmth. Ulrike Feld's booklet notes, while relatively brief, speak with the voice of expertise.

Copyright © 2007, Raymond Tuttle