Although Telemann is renowned for his exceptionally prolific output he was no mere imitator. On the contrary, with striking instrumental colours vividly portraying its programmatic content, he devised new models in the orchestral suite that far exceeded the conventional dance patterns associated with this repertoire.
The versatile forces of Berlin’s Academy for Ancient Music illustrate the startling expressive range of these pieces with arresting intelligence and style. Majestic brilliance in the D major overture (composed in honour of the Hamburg Admiralty) and the cannonade and Hamburg Glockenspiel in the Alster Suite (tracks 3 and 5) demonstrate this group’s imposing precision. Elsewhere, the Academy’s artistry in graphic musical representation is evident in the alarmingly realistic croaking frogs and cawing crows (track 8) and La Chasse’s celebration of the hunt’s noble pleasures. Otherwise, listeners can savour this ensemble’s idiomatic playing in Telemann’s keenly observed depiction of different national styles in La Musette.
Finally, these musicians take special delight in the wry humour of the composer’s Ouverture jointe d’une suite tragi-comique. Here they apply Telemann’s ingenious musical remedies to the pointedly focused delineations of the aches and pains expressed by the gout-stricken, the hypochondriac and the vainglorious fop with ready and engaging wit. Nicholas Rast