Telemann at Café Zimmermann

Die Freitagsakademie
72:39
Winter & Winter 910 245-2
TWV42:g5, 43:a5, 51:A2, 55:C6 & g4

[doprcap]O[/dropcap]n the face of it, this would be a perfect disc for me; sandwiched between two of my favourite ouverture-suites (with three oboes!) are one of his most beloved trio sonatas (this one for violin and oboe), a nice oboe d’amore concerto, and – by way of a treat – a piece I don’t think I’ve ever heard before, one of his four-part string pieces (this one is labelled “sonata”). That, however, is where the excitement reached its climax. The paltry notes (printed on the inside of the wings of the triptych packaging – German to the left, English to the right) are little more than a potted biography of the composer up to the point he established his Collegium Musicum that Zimmermann’s café would later host and then some blurb about that establishment; nothing, in other words, about the music or why it was selected for inclusion. The performances are a mixed bag; while the chamber music (by which I mean everything that is not an overture-suite, even though they, too, are played one-to-a-part) is pleasant enough (the biting string playing in some of the dances are less in evidence, for example), there are two aspects of the suites that I found less attractive; the tinkling of the harpsichord that rather distracted the ear from the actual melodies at several points (and I cannot help wondering if some of the overly mannered slow movements were paced simply to accommodate such indulgence), and the overmiked growly violone – there were times when I had to turn the volume down (on more than one player) to mask the distortion.

Brian Clark