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American Record Guide: (09/2017) 
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Harmonia Mundi 

Code-barres / Barcode : 3149020226124


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Reviewer: John W. Baker

La Stagione Frankfurt has launched a series of recordings for CPO of Telemann’s “Concertos for Mixed Instruments” (three volumes so far:

J/F 2015, S/O 2015, S/O 2016), with the assumption (and hope) of more to come. Now comes the irrepressible Akademie fur Alte Musik of Berlin with “Concertos for Many Instruments” challenging the Frankfurt folks in what is obviously the same territory. There are seven concertos here (plus a brief movement from one more). Some are chamber pieces, others have full “orchestra”. They exemplify not only Telemann’s delight in having many soloists and unusual combinations. Thus, on the delicate side, we have a Concerto in F minor for two violins, two violas, and cello—a veritable string-quintet concertino with continuo. The lone movement from a G-major Concerto slips back to two violins, viola, and cello (string quartet) with continuo. Woodwinds have a strong presence: a Concerto in B-flat for trios of oboes and violins with continuo and a D-minor Concerto for two oboes and violone with continuo. For more splendiferous combinations, there’s a Concerto in D for two oboes, three trumpets, timpani, strings, and continuo, and there’s one in the same key for three horns, violin, strings, and continuo.

Musicology giveth and taketh away in two concertos. The one in B minor originally called for two flutes, and “calchedon”, with strings and continuo. The calchedon was a rare type of long-necked lute, and in a later version of this work Telemann replaced it with a bassoon. By golly, these chaps have found a real calchedon and put it back in its original place here—to sound so weak you hardly notice it. A real makeover job, however, was given to the Concerto in F, part of the Musique de Table, Production II. There it appears as scored for three violins with strings and continuo. Telemann also authorized elsewhere the replacement

of the violins with three harpsichords (!). Our Berliners will have none of that, and on their own they introduce mandolin, hammered dulcimer, and harp as the solo instruments.

What Telemann’s reactions might have been to such high-handedness is hard to tell, though I suspect he would have enjoyed it. (Note also that one movement of this work supplied the theme that Handel appropriated for the ‘Entry of the Queen of Sheba’ in his Solomon—caught ya, George!) This group is famous for the athletic verve of their performances. Just listen to what their horns do in the fantastic parts written for them in that D-major Concerto. All the way, the irresistible playing is worth the price of admission. But it is applied in the service of so much delightful music.

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