Telemann: The Concerti-en-Suite

Tempesta di Mare
62:34
Chandos Chaconne CHAN 0821
TWV 43:g3, 51:F4, 54: F1

In some regards, the accomplished baroque ensemble Tempesta di Mare are emulating the very musicians for whom these two extravagant concerti grossi  or concerti-en-suite in F were almost certainly intended, the Dresden court orchestra under J. G. Pisendel. Telemann not only knew this famously skilled concertmaster well, but also the eminent abilities of the musicians active in this well-honed orchestra.

This recording opens with one of my favourite Telemann concerti-en-suite, TWV 54:F1, which for many years was only to be heard without the pair of Bourees I/II found only in the Schwerin source on an early Berlin Classics CD; and to compound matters further, it was often confusingly catalogued simply as “Suite in F”! Thankfully, Tempesta di Mare take into account both sources of this really vivacious and almost mischievous piece; they spread their musical wings wide and fly; additionally, Richard Stone has astutely filled in the “bridging” trio in the da capo menuet, with an excellent reconstruction after extant horn parts in Schwerin. This is now the fourth recording of a fine work, truly welcome for all the reasons above, and the lively and polished performance. The following concerto di camera  for recorder and strings now has more than a dozen recordings, and feels like a concession to the ensemble’s co-director Gwyn Roberts, who nevertheless exhibits her agility in Telemann’s fluent and accommodating music; that said, two other concerti-en-suite, TWV 53:g1, 53:a1, or even the later 50:21, would perhaps have better fitted the “billing”, i.e. main focus of this CD. Finally, we come to an outstanding example of the genre, in scope, instrumentation, style, and forward-looking, almost symphonic textures. TWV 51:F4 was definitely conceived with virtuoso violinist Pisendel in mind, and the seasoned orchestra behind him. The use of the very same paper as for the composer’s St. John Passion of 1749 TWV 5:34 gives a rough date of composition. Again Tempesta di Mare capture the ebullient drive and wonderful contours of this grandiose piece, flattering both the talents of the orchestra, and with Polish royal connections through Dresden’s Elector of Saxony, King Augustus III of Poland! One begins to sense what a well-aimed and perfectly conceived exposition of music this is. It is worth noting that they eschew Telemann’s alternative  trumpet parts for the penultimate “Pollacca” movement, before the closing stately menuets; a seven-movement tour de force  which Tempesta di Mare tackle with typical flourish and flair.

David Bellinger

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