Telemann Seliges Erwägen
Anna Lucia Richter, Hanna Zumsande, Julienne Mbodjé, Colin Balzer, Michael Feyfar, Peter Harvey, Henk Neven; Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz
Aparté AP 175 112:02 mins (2 discs)
The genesis of Telemann’s non-liturgical Passion-Oratorio Seliges Erwägen des Leidens und Sterbens Jesu Christi (Blessed Reflections on the bitter sufferings and death of Jesus Christ) is unclear. Partly or even entirely written in Frankfurt in about 1719, its first performance may have been in Hamburg sometime after Telemann’s arrival there in 1721. The work enjoyed enormous success, being heard many times in Hamburg in his lifetime, and apparently performed annually in several churches after his death in 1767.
The music is suffused with delightful melodies which often reflect an increasing secularisation and which are far removed from Bach’s Passion music with which it is contemporaneous. Telemann not only wrote the music but also the text, which falls into a pattern of nine individual meditations rather than continuous narrative.
This live performance from the Hamburg Telemann Festival in 2017, marking the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death, is well recorded and stylishly performed. Anna Lucia Richter has some of the most beguiling arias and she delivers them with lightly articulated expression and delicacy of phrasing. Few readers will resist her ‘Dencke nach du arme Erde’, which foreshadows music in Telemann’s cantata Die Tageszeiten some 30 years later; and after the aria ‘Ihr blutgen Schweiss-Rubinen’ they are likely to be completely won over. I hasten to add, though, that the other major solo contributions are of a comparable order and the playing of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra all that one could wish for. Telemann’s scoring features a chalumeau and prominent parts for other wind instruments.