Telemann: Concertos for Oboe and Oboe d’amore; Concerto for Oboe d’amore, Flute & Viola d’amore

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COMPOSERS: Telemann
LABELS: Unicorn-Kanchana
WORKS: Concertos for Oboe and Oboe d’amore; Concerto for Oboe d’amore, Flute & Viola d’amore
PERFORMER: Sarah Francis (oboe, oboe d’amore), Graham Mayger (flute), Elizabeth Watson (viola d’amore), London Harpsichord Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: DKP(CD)9131 DDD
This completes Sarah Francis’s project to record all eight Telemann oboe concertos together with the two for oboe d’amore. But there is also a bonus – she has found a third d’amore concerto, three engaging movements exploiting the creamy low register of this alto oboe.

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Equally enticing is the triple concerto for flute, oboe d’amore and viola d’amore. Controversy surrounds the viola part, sometimes played an octave lower than the taxingly high notation. No such lack of fortitude here – the viola sings among, and at times above, its partners, ingeniously tuned as the booklet explains.

In the extraordinarily passionate C minor concerto by ‘Sigr. Melante’ – crossword buffs will spot the near-anagram – Telemann opens with a crashing dissonance, and the drama is sustained in astonishing major-minor shifts in the last movement. Sarah Francis plays here with intense ardour, while elsewhere her dance-derived movements have fresh, springy rhythms. Just occasionally she touches the brake, dampening the exhilaration of fast passages.

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The modern oboe provides stability and uniformity, if at the cost of that almost vocal expressiveness which we’ve discovered in the period instrument. The LHE’s modern strings match it in tone and, despite occasionally half-hearted phrasing, they support a delightful recording. George Pratt