WORKS: Hamburger Admiralitätsmusik; Overture in C
PERFORMER: Mieke van der Sluis (soprano), Graham Pushee, Rufus Müller (tenor), Klaus Mertens, David Thomas, Michael Schopper (bass)Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble, Bremen Baroque Orchestra/Wolfgang Helbich
CATALOGUE NO: 999 373-2
Telemann’s duties as Hamburg’s ‘director musices’ were as multifarious as they were demanding. On 6 April 1723 the great Hanseatic city celebrated the centenary of its admiralty. At a grand and festive dinner which lasted until dawn, Telemann performed two specially composed pieces, together forming an elaborate serenade. One of these was an orchestral suite, variously known as ‘Wassermusik’ and Ebb’ und Fluth’; the other was the ‘Admiralitätsmusik’ for soloists, choir and orchestra, a setting of verses by Michael Richey. He was a professor at the Johanneum school in Hamburg where Telemann, too, held an ex officio teaching post.
Richey’s poem has a local flavour, appropriate to the occasion, and Telemann provided music which, if at times uneven, sinks neither into the realms of the dull nor into the routine. Wolfgang Helbich, his soloists and his Bremen Baroque Orchestra evoke the occasion with panache and a feeling for musical gesture. The Admiralitätsmusik has its own French overture, whose opening section foreshadows Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, followed by a conventional sequence of recitatives, arias and choruses. Occasionally the choral singing is a fraction under pitch but infectious vitality carries the day with notably strong contributions from soprano Mieke van der Sluis, tenor Rufus Müller and bass Klaus Mertens. Nicholas Anderson