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The Colourful Telemann

Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra/Barthold Kuijken (Naxos)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

The Colourful Telemann – Overture (Suite) TWV 55:c4 in C minor; Concerto TWV 53:G1 in G major; Sonata in E minor, TWV 50:4; Concerto TWV 54:D1 in D major; Sinfonia Melodica in C, TWV 50:2
Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra/Barthold Kuijken
Naxos 8.573900   64:44 mins


The Colourful Telemann, the title of this recording, refers to the composer’s skill in writing idiomatically for a wide range of instruments, and deploying them in imaginatively changing combinations and a unique mixture of national styles. The unhackneyed programme includes two concertos featuring a pair of flutes: one piece, which co-opts (in this performance) a bassoon as a bass line to the flutes, ends with a raucous Polish-style folk dance; the other, which adds solos for violin and cello to the mix, tempers Vivaldian momentum with Telemann’s characteristic lingering over details. With oboes in the orchestra, there’s a serious minor-key Overture, a Sonata which begins with closely-worked Germanic counterpoint and ends as a French dance suite. Most intriguingly of all, there’s a ‘Melodic Symphony’ written in the mid-1760s towards the end of Telemann’s long life, in simplified textures reflecting the taste of the time.

This well-recorded disc is the fourth of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra’s issues for Naxos with its artistic director Barthold Kuijken, a seasoned veteran of the European early music movement. The orchestra is tightly knit and precise in execution, with accomplished soloists, and the performances are alert to all the various styles on Telemann’s palette. The only bar to complete enjoyment is the little ‘lift’ before the final chord of almost every movement, which becomes an irritating mannerism. Kuijken duets engagingly with the Orchestra’s Leela Breithaupt in the concertos, and contributes a booklet note of well-argued praise for the ‘delightful and remarkably generous’ Telemann.


Anthony Burton