WORKS: Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu
PERFORMER: Monika Frimmer, Veronika Winter (soprano), Matthias Koch (countertenor), Nico van der Meel (tenor), Klaus Mertens (bass); Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max
CATALOGUE NO: 10 596 DDD
Telemann’s oratorio The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus is a setting of a commissioned text by the Berlin poet Carl Wilhelm Ramler. Though referred to by Ramler as an elderly composer’s swansong – Telemann was 79 years old when he wrote the work in 1760 – he did, in fact, go on to compose two further oratorios. A distinctive feature of this piece is a lyrical treatment, sometimes even foreshadowing the early German Romantic Lied, which differs markedly from the more traditionally constructed oratorios of the late Baroque.
Nevertheless, the older alternating scheme of recitative and aria prevails, in both of which we sense the composer’s ceaseless quest for new and different means of textual elucidation. In short, there is something of a pioneering quality in which the composer does not, perhaps, always succeed in finding entirely convincing solutions.
But Telemann’s skilful handling of recitative and the melodic variety of the arias and duets are rewarding in themselves, and the performance, under Hermann Max, is fluent and authoritative. The solo vocalists are mainly excellent, though countertenor Matthias Koch sounds fragile in projection and lacks tonal warmth. A valuable addition to our picture of Telemann’s Indian summer, and a work which exerts an ever-livelier fascination on growing acquaintance. Nicholas Anderson