A perceptive stylist and a man with an inexhaustibly inventive mind, a musical erudite whose creative heritage in all the genres prevailing in his time is so great that its scope and variety of solutions capture even the wildest imagination, a man epitomizing the glory of German art in the eyes of enlightened Europeans of the first part of the 18th century, Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767) is one of those composers whose artistic work has not been properly appreciated yet.
Telemann’s creative uniqueness is said to be perceived only when his music is compared with that of his two great contemporaries – Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friederich Händel. But Telemann’s numerous compositions are so good, fresh and fascinating that nowadays we just wish to hear his wonderful music again and again and enjoy it without trying to make profound comparisons.
Total time: 00:57:09
Microphones – Neumann km130 DPA (B & K) 4006 ; DPA (B & K) 4011 SCHOEPS mk2S ; SCHOEPS mk41
|Original Recording Format|
Erdo Groot, Roger de Schot
5th Studio of the Russian Television and Radio, Moscow, Russia
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||September 19, 2015|
Arizona Public Media
f you’re still trying to build a collection of DSD extremely high-resolution surround-sound recordings, a format that has taken hold more strongly in Europe than in America, but one that nevertheless has crowded DVD-Audio out of the classical audiophile market—you’d be well advised to track down releases from Caro Mitis, a company that focuses on Russian performers, tending to use production teams associated with PentaTone, an outstanding Dutch audiophile label.
Pratum Integrum (Latin for “unmown meadow”) is Russia’s only full period-instrument orchestra, founded in 2003. The conductor less ensemble has recorded two discs for Caro Mitis devoted to Georg Philip Telemann, a Baroque composer who, like Vivaldi, was too prolific for the good of his posthumous reputation. Surely a man who wrote hundreds upon hundreds of suites and sonatas couldn’t sustain his inspiration across his catalog? Well Telemann at his worst remained a fine craftsman who may occasionally have relied too much on the musical formulas of his time yet was incapable of producing a true dud. Each work on these two discs is, indeed, quite winning.
Let’s begin with the Telemann in Minor collection; minor-mode music from the Baroque era is likely to strike non specialists as more expressive, less formulaic than major-mode works, so this disc presents Telemann to best advantage. It leads off with what’s billed as the world premiere recording of a Suite in A minor for two oboes, bassoon and strings, a sequence of dances and character pieces, the most notable of which is “Furies,” full of nervous energy. Large-scale works alternate with chamber pieces, two often plaintive sonatas for strings and continuo. The remaining big-ensemble compositions are a concerto for flute, violin, and strings (including a lovely, serene exchange for the soloists over pizzicato accompaniment) and a concerto for two flutes, violin, and strings. This is all music of great refinement and some pathos, and connoisseurs of Baroque music will also enjoy watching Telemann switch back and forth between French and Italian influences.
Telemann in Major offers four world premieres out of its six works. The emphasis here is on orchestral suites, solo concertos, and concerti grossi, with a chamber sonata tacked on at the end. Highlights include the third movement of an Orchestral Suite in B-flat, dubbed “Les Cornes de Visbad”; with its strong rhythms and unexpected turns, it has a touch of Rameau. In contrast, the concerto grosso that follows is in the slightly older, more measured style of Corelli. The disc’s other delights include a flute concerto that’s both elegant and lively, and a violin concerto that calls Vivaldi to mind.
Oddly, the Major disc is topped off with a minor-key string sonata, and the Minor disc includes a major-key violin concerto. It would have been more logical to switch them around.
The Pratum Integrum performances aren’t in the now fashionable hot-blooded Franco-Italian style, but then, this is German music, not French or Italian. That said, the playing has plenty of spirit in proportion to the music’s expressive needs, with a graceful approach to the dance rhythms. The recorded sound, as usual from this label, is superb. These two Telemann discs would be a fine foundation for an audiophile Baroque collection, even a small one.
What’s this? Another A-Minor Suite by Telemann? Ah, but this one is different-aside from being one of the over 100 that he composed, this one is being given its first recording. The suite, or “overture” as it was called at the time, was one of the most popular forms in its day, and we even find Johann Scheibe complaining at the time, “[O]ne can hardly begin the concert with any other composition.” Many of Telemann’s suites took names, such as “Nations Ancient and Modem” or “The Stylish Lady.” Here we are absent from the literary or stage associations and instead get straight forward, though hardly average, work in the French style. We have dance movements speaking of “Pleasures” and “Furies,” ballroom dances like the rigaudon, an English jig, and a Slavic hornpipe, all played here with vivacity, wit, and a touch of seriousness.
Most of the composer’s sonatas were in fact more easily played pieces designed for home use, are more complex and integral than many of the other chamber works. They are four-movement cycles indicative of the older style, yet still unmistakably of the composer’s time, with many fugal imitations and canons continuing with no little degree of intricacy. But this was not a man enamored with Italianate virtuosic tendencies-he felt the French style, with its emphasis on melody and flattering harmony to be far superior to the “superficial virtuosity” of the Italian school. No Vivaldi for him.
It may be that the composer’s familiarity with all instruments and mastery of none led him to write music for players with careful consideration of their natural technical limitations and abilities. It would certainly account for the fact that these works remain among his most popular. The flute and violin concerto given here [TWV 52:e3] is one of the most popular he ever wrote, and its quiet, unassuming manner, with a smoothness of line and wonderful cantabile, have enchanted players and listeners for years. The more serious concerto for two flutes [TWV 53:e1] is not as well known, but only a smattering of opportunities to hear it allow for it to work its magic on the ears. This was, I believe, my first acquaintance with it, and it certainly captured me.
These are period performances, so be forewarned that the sometimes-astringent strings can have an unwieldy effect on those not prepared. Even though I don’t prefer them, I have come to be used to them, and period-playing today is so far removed from the horrors of yesteryear that one can hardly make comparisons. These folks do very well and are obviously attuned to the Telemannian spirit, with lively and energetic fast movements contrasted nicely with not-too-overdone slow ones, especially when one hears the lovely contrast of the mellow flute-playing. This is overall an excellent recording of Telemann, sure to please collectors and fans; it will also serve nicely as an introductory album to novices, especially those enlightened enough to have DSD playback, of which the sound here is exemplary.
AllMusic Review: Telemann in Minor
This is a novel idea; the Russian period orchestra Pratum Integrum has made, for the Caro Mitis label, a disc entitled Telemann in Minor containing only minor-key works of Georg Philipp Telemann. While it is novel, it’s not necessarily a difficult program to assemble, just among his purely orchestral compositions Telemann has no less than seven works in the key of D minor alone. Here, Pratum Integrum offers a selection of two concerti in C and E minor, a pair of sonatas in C and B flat minor, and a never before recorded orchestral suite in A minor. The sonatas come from a grey area within Telemann’s literature in which he composed expanded chamber pieces that could be adapted into orchestral pieces with no more than a subtle shift in instrumentation, and he intended them that way. These are very crisp and alert performances and not pieces intended for amateurs — as so many of Telemann’s things are — but serious, full-fledged efforts that exemplify his mastery and questing spirit.
It is a real pity that so many of Telemann’s pieces are both undated and un-datable. One would love, for example, to know if the “Furies” movement in the A minor suite was influenced by Gluck’s “Dance of the Furies” in Orfeo ed Euridice — after all, Telemann was still living in 1762 and very tuned into currents in French music — or if it was he who influenced Gluck. Turbulent and stormy movements are not foreign to Telemann’s works, but the resemblance here is so close. Excitement about the debut work is such that it is hard to miss the balance of what’s on the disc, and this is far from being the first, or the best, recording of Telemann’s Concerto à Sei for flute, violin and strings, TWV 52:e3. The Sextet for two violins, two viols, cello & continuo, TWV 44:32, is played well, but the remaining performances, while pleasant, are not particularly memorable.
Nevertheless, Pratum Integrum was only founded in 2003 and their work represents progress for Russian period instrument ensembles. Russian groups that want to play Baroque music on original instruments usually have a tough row to hoe, finding it difficult to shake off the fat, romantic string tone taught as a matter of course at the Moscow Conservatory and elsewhere. Moreover, they are often plagued with intonation problems, indeed, even if they can access quality period instruments at all. Such aspect is not wholly absent from this recording, and there is some struggle getting the intonation right between the two oboes in the last movement of the A minor suite. Pratum Integrum, however, has studied with the Kuijkens, Bergen Barokk, and Il Gardellino and is really making the effort to come up to speed with the standard set in greater Europe; Telemann in Minor is decidedly a step in the right direction.
A superficial listen to the two albums points out a certain parallel in the respective compilations. Both begin with an overture-suite – and it would be hard to do otherwise. The orchestration is the same for both: two oboes, bassoon, strings, and continuous bass Even in the parts engaged in the other recorded compositions turns out to be a certain intentional parallel between the two. The TWV55:B4 Suite, which probably dates back to the Frankfurt years, gives a measure of Telemann’s eclectic style: the overture to the French is followed by an Italian air and a German movement since the title: “the horns of Visbade” (Wiesbaden). Other dance movements follow and finally a furious who defines himself?
Telemann openly expressed his lack of propensity for the genre of the Concerto, but it cannot be said that the facts give him a response. Of Concerti Telemann wrote a multitude of them and for the most varied formations. These are exquisitely crafted compositions rich in originality and harmonic invention. Among the Concerts recorded here are the two Big Concerts in G Major TWV52:G1 and TWV53:G1. They are very different from each other; the first seems to belong to the early years of the composer and refers to Korean ways while allowing himself the freedom to conclude with a fast dance movement not quite in the Italian ways. The second, written for a trio of winds (two flutes and a bassoon) on string orchestra testifies to the author’s mature style and is of amazing sound beauty and sophistication. The first movement, captures the listener with a unique dialogue between the trio of winds that weather with continuous its melody and the occasional, sudden intromissions of the strings to comment.
Telemann always adopted for his Concerts the slow-fast-fast scheme derived from the church sonata. Among its few Concerts in three times there is the TWV51:G4, which resonates with Vivaldian echoes. But even here with unmistakably personal additions. A similar comment applies to the TWV51:E1, although here we return to the quasi-rule of the four movements. Again, denied by the TWV52:e3 in minor that consists of compensation of five movements. Pleasant the first that contrasts the flute with a polyphony string move and the celestial adage for flute and violin on string arpeggio.
The two albums also contain three beautiful sonatas for two violins, two violets, cello, and continuous bass. They are therefore sextets, always with the slow-fast-slow-fast scanning, whose chamber writing manifests points of contact with that of the Concerts, while conforming as less brilliant and more meditative, especially in minor compositions.
If the mastery of the composer cannot be surprising, it is instead that of the performers. The Meadow Integrum Orchestra is a young Russian line-up, the only in her country that plays with original instruments an eighteenth-century repertoire. Judging by these two albums, they are part of instrumentalists of indisputable value. There is no shortage of movements, especially fast ones, which allow you to appreciate its technical ability and the precision of sound. But not only is this a matter: the interpretation is elegant, measured, empathetic. These musicians have been able to dive into the great German late-Baroque tradition that is alien to the Russian soul with a great capacity for empathy. For the opinion that we can have made, their Telemann is faithful to the original as best it could not. A beautiful Telemann plays in the East. The technical quality of the recording is excellent and helps to enhance the skill of the performers and their attention to the minute detail.
The excellence of the performers, the happy anthology choice, and the rediscovery of many unpublished pieces contribute to the judging of the two albums a remarkable contribution to the rapidly expanding discography of the composer of Magdeburg.
Online Musik Magazin: Telemann in Russland
Die historische Aufführungspraxis gewinnt in Osteuropa zunehmend an Bedeutung. Junge Ensembles widmen sich mit viel Engagement und auf einem beeindruckend hohen Niveau der authentischen Interpretation der so genannten Alten Musik vergangener Epochen. Vom bemerkenswerten Leistungsstand dieser Ensembles konnte man sich auf verschiedenen Festivals und bei anderen Gelegenheiten bereits überzeugen.
Zu Pfingsten kommt mit Pratum Integrum ein Barockorchester aus Moskau zu den Tagen Alter Musik nach Regensburg, um dort seine Deutschlandpremiere zu geben. Grund genug, wie es scheint, die aktuelle CD des russischen Ensembles vorzustellen.
“Telemann in minor” lautet der Titel der 2004 entstandenen Aufnahme; (überwiegend) in Moll komponierte Werke Georg Philipp Telemanns zeigen den Meister von seiner ernsten, fast strengen Seite. Nichtsdestotrotz vereinigt die CD eine abwechslungsreiche und sehr unterhaltsame Werkauswahl, angefangen von der Orchester-Suite a-moll für zwei Oboen, Fagott, Streicher und Basso continuo TWV 55:a3, die hier erstmals eingespielt wurde. Des Weiteren finden sich auf der Silberscheibe zwei Streicher-Sonaten (“Sextours”) in f-moll und B-Dur sowie zwei Konzerte in e-moll für Flöte, Violine bzw. zwei Flöten, Violine, Streicher und Basso continuo.
Die jungen Musikerinnen und Musiker von Pratum Integrum pflegen einen satten, kernigen Sound, wie er dem hier eingespielten Repertoire angemessen ist. Dabei erliegen sie nie der Versuchung extravaganter Überzeichnungen. Das Klangspektrum des Ensembles ist farbenreich, die Tempi sind schwungvoll und frisch, finden in den langsamen Sätzen aber auch den notwendigen ruhigen Atem. Als Beispiel sei nur auf das erste Adagio des fünfsätzigen Konzerts für Flöte, Violine, Streicher und Basso continuo verwiesen mit den wunderschönen Kantilenen der Solisten über dem Pizzicato der Streicher.
Nicht unerwähnt bleiben soll das geschmackvoll schlichte Booklet mit – trotz gelegentlich recht bizarrer Formen der deutschen Übersetzung – informativem Text.
Fazit: “Telemann in minor” ist eine sehr gelungene Aufnahme, die den Zuhörer vom ersten bis zum letzten Ton in ihren Bann zu ziehen vermag. Für Telemann-Fans ein Muss, zumal man hier mit einer weniger beachteten Facette des Meister konfrontiert wird. Und alle, denen Telemanns Musik bislang zu seicht erschien, werden bei dieser CD gewiss aufhorchen. Man darf gespannt sein auf die Begegnung mit Pratum Integrum, wenn nicht live in Regensburg, dann vielleicht im CD-Geschäft!
Opus Haute Définition: Telemann in minor
Toujours enregistrés en pur DSD, les Super Audio CD du label russe Caro Mitis sont un modèle éditorial qu’il est bon de saluer une nouvelle fois. Pour cet enregistrement le jeune orchestre Pratum Integrum nous entraîne sur les traces de Telemann en nous faisant découvrir en première mondiale, la suite d’orchestre pour deux hautbois, basson, cordes et basse continue. A ses côtes, nous pouvons également entendre deux sonates pour deux violons, deux altos et violoncelle, ainsi qu’un concerto pour flûte, violon et cordes et un autre pour deux flûtes, violon et cordes. Avec une belle aisance parfois bridée par une certaine monotonie, l’orchestre déploie une maîtrise absolue de ces œuvres qui, certes, ne sont pas des chefs-d’œuvre mais donnent à percevoir un pan de la personnalité de Telemann que l’on explore peu. Des plans sonores bien en place, des timbres instrumentaux aux coloris soyeux, des phrasés judicieusement maîtrisés donnent à l’ensemble de cet enregistrement le sentiment d’une musique humaine plus que décorative avec ce qu’il faut de verve pour transporter l’émotion au-delà de l’imaginaire. Revisiter un tel répertoire peut paraître vain, mais le « courage » dont fait preuve ce bel ensemble Pratum integrum n’est pas le moindre de ses atouts. Côté son, les deux parties Stéréo et multicanal en haute définition respectent parfaitement le timbre de chaque instrument.
Toccata Music Update (Alte Musik Aktuell)
Pratum Integrum means an unspoiled meadow, natural, free in growth and development. This is a gentle picture for a young orchestra and a gentle motto on top of that. In 2003, therefore, some young artists of the Russian early music movement came together, founded this orchestra, and since then have been playing exclusively for the label Caro Mitis – Essential Music in Moscow works of the 18th century. (In the “Current & brand new” section,
“Stunning” is exactly the right expression for what is happening here. This interpretation carries a risk of addiction, one can no longer leave it, may listen to certain passages over and over again. It is the naturality, coupled with the joy of playing, which captivates so much – the pure joy of playing!
The approach of the Czech and Polish orchestras is effectively intensified and distilled against the background of the now feared technical brilliance of the Russian musicians. They just do everything right with provocative and disarming ease and looseness. They play with brain and heart, boredom never arises, every detail mutates into pure music. And good old Telemann, this stiff German, becomes an Italian, a great, magnificent Baroque composer, on the same level as Handel or Vivaldi. What a wonderful discovery! This great composer as well as this great orchestra.
Pratum Integrum is the only original-instrument orchestra in Russia and one of the few ensembles specializing in early music. The members are all 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 absorptive 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 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 latest 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.
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