Telemann: Chamber works/Musica Alta Ripa

Review by: John Greene

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

With more than 800 works remaining, it’s doubtful that Musica Alta Ripa’s first volume of Telemann concertos and chamber music represents the beginning of a complete cycle. However, as with many other mostly European ensembles (Musica Antiqua Köln, Parnassi Musici, Camerata Köln, etc.) who continue to draw inspiration from Telemann’s prodigious and often worthy legacy, recording repertoire that even 20 years ago would’ve been thought unimaginable or impractical likely indicates something of a mission. Obviously, as colleague David Vernier suggests (type Q2922 in review search), musicians share an appreciation of Telemann that apparently eludes general listeners–perhaps because unlike most listeners they’re simply able to enjoy Telemann without unfairly comparing him to you-know-who. No doubt about it, Bach was the genius, yet–and even Bach acknowledged this–in terms of versatility and imaginative manipulation of international style, Telemann was peerless. In other words, to musicians this means music that’s fun to play, and for unbiased others it means hours of pleasurable listening.

And Musica Alta Ripa certainly sounds like it’s having a good time here. After a brief though bizarrely elongated Adagio that begins the opening Sonata in F major, the group delivers a humorously spirited Allegro–an infectious gallop of daunting strings shifting momentum throughout the movement’s too-short, three-minute duration. The final Allegro of the Quadro in G minor also is great fun. Here, scoring for the recorder (one of his favorite instruments), Telemann offers a boisterous romp that’s rich in rhythmic and harmonic variety.

The two Concertos and Overture as well feature many equally inspired moments. In the “Tempo di Minuet” movement of the Concerto in C major, Danya Segal’s recorder humorously punctuates the dance with florid yet often bold gestures. The Overture in F-sharp minor also delights with its numerous clever stylistic pastiches. The brief third-movement Angloise, with its wicked play on Handelian pomp, and the brusque hyper-momentum of the eighth-movement Le Batelage (reminiscent of the excesses of Telemann’s earlier Bohemian contemporary, Biber) are especially enjoyable. MDG’s sound is superb, with the group placed somewhat distant though without significantly sacrificing clarity or instrumental detail. Ute Poetzsch’s notes are informative and entertaining. In short, this is another great Telemann recording guaranteed to please both the composer’s existing fans as well as novice listeners.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: none for these settings

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN - Sonata in F major TWV 43:F1; Concerto in C major TWV 51:C1; Overture in F-sharp minor TWV 55:fis; Quadro in G minor TWV 43:g4; Concerto in G major TWV 51: G9

  • MDG - 309 1189-2
  • CD

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