Telemann: Harmonischer Gottesdiesnst Vol.7

Bergen Barokk (Franz Vitzthum alto, Peter Holtslag flute, Thomas C. Boysen theorbo, Markku Luolajan-Mikkola viola da gamba, Hans Knut Sven harpsichord/organ)
Toccata Classics  TOCC 0182

It must be said that this recording has taken quite some time (several years!) to finally appear – recorded in 2008, we wondered if the project would continue, so this is a wonderful pre-Christmas gift; and we are in safe hands with both composer and ensemble. If you were told to go and hear six liturgical cantatas with exactly the same, limited instrumentation, you might expect some momentary lulls in interest, yet these finely crafted works are easily on par with Handel’s nine German Arias, and offer a very decent range of unforced expressivity for the solo vocalist (here a male alto) and instrumentalist (transverse flute). A very well observed trait in the continuo section, the canatas alternate between harpsichord and organ across the CD, neatly marking out the dual application of these well-conceived works for possible domestic use and/or divine worship.

It is a double joy to encounter some new works among others that are familiar, especially when the bright, mellifluous musicality takes hold from the very first: Ew’ge Quelle…other notable openings are found in both TVWV1:994 and 1:449, the first has echoes of the last aria in the “Landlust” TVWV20:33 from the Moralische Cantaten of 1736, with its nightingale imitations (superbly captured by Peter Holtslag, who is excellent throughout alongside Fritz Vitzthum).

Upon closer inspection of Stig Wernø Holter’s  most insightful notes, some minor “slips” in translation can be clearly noted: for example, track 9 (on page 8) “Thus heaven will be the prize”; and in the second cantata’s first aria, the final verb is “verbannt” , which means “banished” or “cast out”. These (and a couple of other near-misses) do little to affect one’s pleasure with such engaging performances, combining to form an intimate, edifying listen to some beautifully contoured cantatas from Telemann’s 1725-6 published cycle. A fine continuation of the series.

David Bellinger

P. S. Only 30 fabulous cantatas to go before the project is completed!

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