L’Orfeo Bläserensemble, Carin van Heerden
cpo 555 085-2
TWV 44: 2, 8, 10, 14 & 16
And so cpo embark on another exciting journey in the company of Monsieur Telemann; this time, the oboe, horn and bassoon players of the excellent baroque orchestra L’Orfeo will explore the repertoire that has survived for Harmonie (or wind band). And what a cracking start we have – three suites in F with “normal” oboes, and one concerto and one overture in D with oboes d’amore. Readers of these pages may recall my delight at a Resonus release called ‘The Saxon alternative’ by a similar group called Syrinx; in fact, the two D major works are on both discs, but I wouldn’t want to be without either! The L’Orfeo wind players are outstanding; sprightly, vivacious playing with sprinklings of neat ornaments and a great interaction between the parts, the horns really relishing the escape from their typical harmony-filling role. The one thing that bothered me, and it seems to be something I am writing more and more frequently these days, is the right hand of the continuo harpsichordist – it’s not a keyboard concerto; yes, if you’re accompanying a solo or a trio sonata, feel free to pick up the tune or improvise some nice counter-melodies but in this sort of repertoire, when the ear is already coping with four or five parts, the last thing the oboes needs is someone cluttering their sound space. While the booklet notes argue that these overtures belong as much in the chamber as in the open (where the sounds of the instruments would surely carry to entertain the hunting or picnicking aristocrats for whom they were written), I find the harpsichord extraneous and I cannot begin to understand the presence of a lute… That said, this is excellent music-making and I look forward to the next release in the series.