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Fanfare Magazine: 44:2 (11-12/2020) 
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Reviewer: Raymond Tuttle

This disc (Concertos & Ouverture) is just what it says—a trio of larger-scale works by Telemann, two in a concertante style. The concertos were composed either in Frankfurt or Hamburg between 1716 and 1725. The Ouverture is an earlier work, from 1715 or earlier, and is in a more French style than the two concertos, which hybridize French, German, and Italian influences. Indeed, hearing a movement such as the galloping Gigue from the 10-movement Ouverture, or the dotted rhythms in the first movement, if one did not know better, one would assume that the composer was French. Even the movement titles (“Les Augures,” “La Joye,” “Plainte,” etc.) are French. Telemann was quite a chameleon.

All three works are a delight. The recorderist (apparently that is an acceptable term—I don’t know why I have avoided it for so many years!) is tested in both works, as the movements alternate between almost ceaseless volleys of notes and long-lined melodies that show off his breath control and mastery of timbre. The bassoonist is not cut a break in TWV 52:F1, either. The friendly juxtaposition of the bassoon and the recorder—an alto recorder, I am guessing—is engaging and gently comical, and Telemann evidently takes pleasure in having them play follow the leader with each other. The feelings of well-being created by this music are just what we need during these complicated times.

There are multiple alternative recordings of the two concertos. The Ouverture, on the other hand, seems to have been unknown (or at least underplayed) until recently, and I cannot find any other recordings of it except for one by the Cappella Coloniensis conducted by Georg Fischer, and that one is only on YouTube. I like both performances; my guess is that the Cappella Coloniensis is considerably larger than the Arion Baroque Orchestra, which has (for example) a total of seven violinists participating both in the Ouverture and in the concertos.

A few years ago an ensemble named Concerto Stella Matutina recorded the Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon for the Fra Bernardo label. Their more accented approach to the music adds more spice and individuality than perhaps is really needed, but I leave it up to individual listeners to decide if they like it or not. The present recording is mellower and more natural; I don’t sense that these Montreal-based musicians are trying to prove a point. Dutch recorder virtuoso Erik Bosgraaf has recorded both concertos with Ensemble Cordevento for Brilliant Classics; his friendly bassoonist in the double concerto is Marike van der Ende. Again, the tendency is for Bosgraaf’s performances to be a little more emphatic, which is neither here nor there, but I feel that the Arion Baroque Orchestra is more polished than Ensemble Cordevento, and that could be a deciding factor. Suffice it to say that Lauzer, Lussier, and their Québécois colleagues play with a refinement that will not be mistaken for blandness.

These recordings date from 2019 (the concertos) and 2015 (the Ouverture) and were made in a church in Mirabel, a Montréal suburb. The warm and not overly echoey recording gives the music and the performances everything that they need.

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