WORKS: Der Messias, TWV6:4; Partie in A minor, TWV 44:42; Sonata in F, TWV 44:11; Concerto in E flat, TWV 43:Es1
PERFORMER: Veronika Winter (soprano), Marion Eckstein (contralto), Jan Kobow (tenor), Klaus Mertens (bass); Telemann Collegium Michaelstein/Ludger Rémy
CATALOGUE NO: 999 847-2
Oh dear – if this is the Enlightenment, I prefer the Dark. Last time I tangled with Telemann’s luciferous tendencies, his 1755 setting of Karl Ramler’s Der Tod Jesu struck me as slightly saccharine. Klopstock (1724-1803) was an even bigger figure in the movement, memorably set by CPE Bach and by Mahler in the Resurrection Symphony. That’s as may be, but his poem Der Messias is the worst kind of Augustan versifying, verbose and music-averse. Brave Telemann had several goes at its numerous cantos; here, a sequence of vocal numbers, nothing like your traditional recit. and aria, adds up to a rather abstract commentary on the Saviour’s story, larded with instrumental interludes. Satan gets his come-uppance in a mere 80 seconds, lustily sung by the reliable Klaus Mertens; and Jan Kobow’s fine tenor is a real discovery. The orchestral sections offer delightful relief, jauntily and stylishly played and well recorded.
Telemann’s non-pareil ear for colour unites this oddity of his old age with the three early concertos; but Musica Antiqua Köln’s superb 1984 Archiv recording of TWV 44:42 trumps the Michaelsteiners and Goebel takes the four movements in a different, more convincing order – still, full marks for effort: more please. Finally, CPO needs to proof its English translations better. Nick Morgan