Telemann’s Garden

Elephant House Quartet
Pentatone PTC 5186 749

It is with some inevitability that any baroque flautist or recorder player will come to “dabble”, adding their individual flair and sheen to some of Telemann’s neatly conceived, oft charming little gems of chamber music. Many pieces also offer a surprising flexibility in options for possible instrumentation. Here the Elephant House Quartet bring a crisp and balanced interpretation of works chosen to share the limelight, then slip back into the comfortable nucleus of the quartet; this they do with amazingly smooth, unforced ease. The recorder version of the Paris Quartet (TWV43:G4) and the Suite V in A minor (TWV42:a3) display these precise qualities so very well. Camerata Köln recorded the complete “Six Concerts et six Suites” of 1734 back in 2000 on cpo, and perhaps another of the “Concerts” could possibly have been included here to gently push the CD timing over the hour mark?

It would also have been nice to hear all of the fine harpsichord fantasia (TWV33:19) and perhaps the remarkably gifted Reiko Ichise might have tackled one of the recently found gamba fantasias? For another day perhaps…

This said, in the spirit of egalitarian division, all the instrumentalists get their own outings, moments to shine within these selected works which they do with tremendous efficacy and perfectly measured musicianship. All in all, this is a splendidly plucked and blown bouquet/nosegay from Telemann’s neatly conceived musical garden.

David Bellinger

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