Sabine Goetz, Marnix De Cat, Philippe Gagné, Werner Van Mechelen SATB, Es Tempore, Mannheimer Hofkapelle, Florian Heyerick
cpo 555 083-2
TVWV 1: 66, 816, 929, 1326
The long and productive, artistic and musical working relationship between Telemann and the famous poet, theologian, preacher Erdmann Neumeister (1671-1756) great innovator of the cantata as we know it, probably began sometime before or around 1705 and continued right up to the composer’s busy mid Hamburg years. It was to prove extremely fruitful, yielding no less than five major cycles (“Jahrgänge” in German), each with distinctive, defining qualities and artistic parameters.
Before and after these known cycles of cantata, some collaborations were undertaken, like the seven cantatas from Neumeister’s early Geistliche Cantaten of circa 1705, (Leipzig, Sorau). The works featured on this CD step over the first major cycle of 1710/11 Geistliches Singen und Spielen, and the so-called “French” cycle, the Geistliche Poesien of 1714/15, and focus on the second Frankfurt cycle from Neumeister, termed “Concertizing” or “Italian cycle 1716/17, 1720. This double dating is explained by the fact Neumeister wasn’t able, due probably to commitments in Hamburg where he worked from 1715 at the famous St Jacobi church, to complete the full year’s texts. The 1716/17 texts run from the first Sunday in Advent to the 3rd day of Whitsun (major feasts in the Lutheran calendar had three days of celebrations). The texts for the remainder of the cycle as set by Telemann in 1720 were written by Telemann himself, Gottfried Simonis and the infamous “anon”.
My first tiny niggle with this recording, after all this complexity, is why play the works out of liturgical sequence, let alone out of chronological order? Unless they were performed thus, back to front in the live concert? Nevertheless, the recording opens with one of the 1720 cantatas, with the finely articulated and nuanced Dictum, “Aller Augen warten auf dich”, tight and concise singing that quickly grabs your attention, underpinned by the alert and nimble Mannheimer Hofkapelle, whose contributions never wane from admirable standards, and their trumpet player Fruzsina Hara in the Easter work TVWV1:816 captures the pervading jubilant tone perfectly. The soprano is lyrical, the tenor excellent, the alto and bass both had moments of finely measured singing, yet just occasionally lacked conviction. All the while, one is aware of the difficult lines woven into these cantatas, just try saying the words they have to sing on track 14! There are some very fine moments, but I await some, broader sweeps through the two sections of this cycle. Some cantatas from it have already been on CD, yet some editions await with latent potential, including the Estomihi work TVWV1:1316 from Prima la musica!
Finally, there are some tiny anomalies in the translated text (e. g., O welches Freudenfest!, track15) and there are other things I might have rendered differently; but the disc is another welcome addition to cpo’s well-laden Telemann flagship. Might there have been room to have one more work aboard?