Telemann: Advent Cantatas

Gudrun Sidonie Otto soprano, GSOConsort (Ingolf Seidel baritone, Christine Schwark cello, Michael Freimuth lute/theorbo, Wolfgang Brunner harpsichord/organ)
53:42
cpo 777 955-2

Whenever Christmas approaches I look forward to new releases from cpo; they have a knack of uncovering some excellent repertoire that has lain unknown for centuries and serving up fabulous recordings. When the new lists came out for December 2016 I noticed that – in addition to Jauchze du Tochter Zion (reviewed below) – a new Advent disc was on its way, I got very excited; it is a much neglected and (obviously) important part of the church year, but few performers seem to take much interest in the music written for the four Sundays before Christmas. Of course, as well as the great Martin Luther celebration, 2017 is important for Telemanniacs, too, since the great man died 250 years ago, so (like Advent) this disc was a portent of things to come.

In fact, there no cantatas at all; instead, we have extracts from Telemann’s Auszug der derjenigen musicalischen und auf die gewöhnlichen Evangelien gerichteten Arien welche in den Hamburgischen Haupt=Kirchen durchs 1727. Jahr vor der Predigt aufgeführt werden  (“A selection of the musical arias based on the usual Gospel texts which are performed before the sermon in Hamburg’s main churchs throughout the year 1727”). Their scope is broader than the CD title implies: eight are (as advertised) for Advent, then two each for the traditional three days of Christmas according to the Lutheran calendar, the Sunday after Christmas and the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany.

The performances were recorded live at the regular Sonntagsmusiken held in Magdeburg (where there is an important centre for the study and promotion of the composer’s music). They are broadly shared by the brightly voiced Gudrun Sidonie Otto and her youthful sounding baritone companion, Ingolf Seidel. Throughout they are finely accompanied by cello and either one or two “realisers” playing one or other of their designated instruments. These changes of soundscape help to enrich the experience, but even such dramatic openings as that to TVWV 1:114a was not enough to make up for my initial disappointment that these were not full-blown cantatas with orchestra.
Brian Clark
Brian Clark