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GRAMOPHONE (03 /2014)
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3760195733714 (ID382)

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Reviewer: Julie Anne Sadie


Having been warmly reviewed in these pages as recently as the November issue,

Ensemble Zefiro would seem at the top of their game, because their performances in this selection of three of Telemann’s virtuoso Ouvertures is hardly less dazzling than their Vivaldi bassoon concertos. When in 1992 Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert recorded a slightly different threesome (Archiv, 6/93 – only the B flat major is common to both), they relied on a larger ripieno ensemble that could easily hold its own against the oboes and bassoon. Times have changed and tastes evolved. The much-vaunted lean muscularity of the Ensemble Zefiro performances favours the wind instruments and, when joined with one-to-a-part strings, produces a freshly balanced sonority that alters our experience of these works.


Of course, Telemann deserves credit for devising endlessly clever ways of setting them against one another. The D major Ouverture is topped and tailed with little Brandenburgian trumpet-like interjections by the oboes, and in between there is a wonderfully hectic Harlequinade, deftly punctuated with hilariously bombastic tuttis. In the D minor Ouverture, Alberto Grazzi produces ravishing pedal tones on his bassoon that assume more importance than they might have done in the past. Elsewhere winds and strings are contrasted in snatches of dialogue, antiphony and echo, and enhanced by the dramatic use of silence (listen, for example, to the Gavotte, Air and Canaries). The B flat major contains equally memorable moments, such as the elegantly phrased Rondeau, the crisply syncopated Hornepipe, the concerto-ish Plainte and the Vivaldian Combattans, complete with tremolo strings.


Special praise is due to the superb, unstinting continuo players. Thrilling!

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