Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
Fanfare Magazine: 43:3 (01-02/2020) 
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information
Les abonnés à Fanfare Magazine ont accès aux archives du magazine sur internet.
Subscribers to Fanfare Magazine have access to the archives of the magazine on the net.


Code-barres / Barcode : 761203519224

Reviewer: Bertil van Boer

Georg Philipp Telemann’s corpus of cantatas is, like those of Christoph Graupner noted elsewhere in this issue, vast and seemingly inexhaustible. Unlike his colleague (and his friend Johann Sebastian Bach, for that matter), he was more focused on their composition, often grouping them into sets that would be useful for a larger audience. In order to accomplish this, he sometimes created these sets for minimal forces with the intent that they could be performed in places that did not have access to larger vocal or instrumental forces. The most salient example is the Harmonische Gottesdienst, but he also composed sets for particular voice types, as well as more expansive works. This disc is rather more restrictive, being billed as cantatas for countertenor. Along with only two of them, there is the short Missa brevis in B Minor, a mere 14 minutes long, that may well have been a prototype for a set of Masses that would be published in a generic manner along the line of the Gottesdienst. In any case the two cantatas, one in German and one in Latin, along with the Mass, all date from around 1705, give or take, and thus belong to the composer’s earliest efforts. The nice booklet notes by Ute Poetzsch speculate that they may well have been part of Telemann’s attempts to create sets by Erdmann Neumeister, a librettist better known for his work with Bach and his publication of sets of cantata texts of a generic nature. It seems rather convincing, though the documentation is particularly sparse on Telemann’s Leipzig years and the supposed plethora of compositions written there.


In any case, considering them as meant for countertenor is a bit disingenuous, as the voice type is not specified (and in any case Poetzsch doesn’t address the issue). Yet, whether one of the St. Thomas boys did the honors or it was undertaken by a countertenor at the time is irrelevant, as the ranges do fit either voice type. What is evident is that the first work, Ach Herr strafe mich nicht, TWV 7:1, is rather sparsely set for only a pair of violins in accompaniment. The opening aria is a bit on the primitive side, with the strings operating as a ritornello, but the bulk being a meandering line for the voice above a sparse continuo. The ornamentation is equally simple, meaning that it was meant for something outside of the world of the opera stage (for which Telemann in Leipzig claimed to have written over a dozen works). The second aria is softer and more melancholic, with moments of accompanied recitative that are interjected in arioso fashion. That, however, doesn’t last, for the final aria with its swirling strings and challenging roulades in the voice seems tailor-made for the stage, though here too there are moments of recitative that are inserted.


The second cantata began life as an experiment by Neumeister to take advantage of the fad for Latin texts, and as always in Lutheran Germany such things might have more than a whiff of popery about them. Nonetheless, it was successful, and in Telemann’s version, an opening sonata da chiesa harkens back to an older fashion for Italianate sacred music, with a harmonious Corellian slow introduction followed by a rather lively bit of counterpoint. I hear some Buxtehude or even earlier Rosenmüller in the opening recitative, which seems a bit of a throwback stylistically. The first aria, “Jesu Christe, tu es iste,” is a bit more modern, with a well-developed lyrical theme, though the walking bass wanders about and the violins perform the ritornello alternating with the vocal line. The next speaks of distress and sickness, and Telemann uses a mournful ostinato to outline the mood. Finally, there is the finale where the dictum of Christ as the symbol of faith is noted. It is all very didactic, and the composer creates a more integrated aria with flowing vocal lines and a bit more counterpoint in the violin accompaniment.


The short Mass (only the Kyrie and Gloria, per Lutheran practice) begins with a nice instrumental introduction in which the violins do a short arabesque about each other, adding the voice as a third partner. The ranges here are rather constricted, but Telemann offsets these with short sequential sections and metrical elaborations. The Gloria seem more modern, with the violins echoing the short vocal statements. The Laudamus te has some rather flowing coloratura, while the Domine Deus is more of a march that is decisive with steady dotted rhythms. At the end, the Cum sancto spiritu is a lengthy aria with a sort of pastoral meter, which would fit well in an oratorio, though it contains few obbligato moments outside the melismatic Amen.


The total amount of these works for alto voice is too small for an entire disc, and so director Veronika Skuplik has chosen to insert a couple of Telemann’s short organ fugues into the mix. These are minimal pieces with not much in the way of complex counterpoint, and certainly are an anodyne to the monumental creations of composers such as Bach. There is even a brief trio sonata and an aria readapted from yet another cantata that are interpolated to fill out the disc. While interesting, these are a bit inconsequential.


As for the performance, countertenor Alex Potter is spot on. His resonant voice contains a lovely timbre, while his phrasing is precisely what this music needs to bring it to life. The continuo playing of La Dolcezza is quite discrete as it should be, and the two violins do well in their ritornellos, though the texture can be a bit thin and strident at times. Michael Fürst’s organ work has good registrations, but the simplicity of the music doesn’t necessary cause him any sleeplessness. All in all, this is another good addition to the vast Telemann repertory, and while these seemingly early works are nowhere as progressive as his later ones, they do give a good picture of one of the Baroque’s most prolific composers.

Fermer la fenêtre/Close window

Sélectionnez votre pays et votre devise en accédant au site de
Presto Classical
(Bouton en haut à droite)
Ships worldwide

Pour acheter l'album
ou le télécharger

To purchase the CD
or to download it

Choose your country and curency
when reaching
Presto Classical
(Upper right corner of the page)
Expédie dans tous les pays


Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews