Telemann: Sacred cantatas

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COMPOSERS: Telemann
LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Sacred cantatas
PERFORMER: Dorothee Fries (soprano), Mechthild Georg (alto), Andreas Post (tenor), Albert Pöhl (bass); Hannover Hofkapelle, Collegium Vocale Bach-Chores Siegen/Ulrich Stötzel
CATALOGUE NO: 98.179
Telemann wrote many, many more sacred cantatas than his contemporary and friend, JS Bach. That they are of lesser merit hardly needs to be said; yet, few that I have seen or heard are without points of interest or moments – many of them extended – of inspiration. Until recently, cantatas have been treated as the Cinderella of Telemann’s oeuvre, at least by recording companies. In the past couple of years or so this has been redressed and the present issue is but one among several releases which has brought to life pieces hitherto unperformed and unrecorded.

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The programme contains three cantatas belonging to Telemann’s Frankfurt-am-Main period (1712-21). These are not small-scale cantatas of the kind which characterise his comparatively well-known collection Der harmonische Gottesdienst, but richly orchestrated pieces with arias, choruses and chorales. Unlike Bach, Telemann generally sets the chorales simply, but the arias offer greater variety of form, some of them virtuoso Italianate movements, others, as in Neumeister’s text on

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the hymn ‘Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten’, more widely eclectic. Performances are stylish and alert with fine singing from contralto Mechthild Georg. Her aria with oboe obbligato, ‘Leget nur die matten Glieder’, from the third cantata on the disc is a delight. Nicholas Anderson