TELEMANN: Double Concerti for Winds and Strings = Concerto in E Minor for Traverso, Violin and Strings; Concerto in G Major for 2 Violins and Strings; Concerto in D Major for Trumpet, Violin and Strings; Concerto in E Minor for 2 Traversos, Bassoon and Strings; Concerto in G Major for 2 Violins and Strings; Concerto in E Minor for Recorder, Traverso and Strings – Rebel/Joerg Michael Schwarz – Bridge 9421, 64:40 [Distr. by Albany] (9/3/13) *****:
For those who favor the music of Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), the ensemble Rebel (estab. 1991, in the Netherlands) brings a notable energy and brisk elan to his diverse music. Telemann found his original style in the (Frankfurt) German taste, having begun as a violinist at Eisenach. But Telemann sought both variety and facility, especially to compete musically with one Pantaleon Hebenstreit, whom Telemann characterized as having “strength on the violin certainly . . .worthy of the first rank among all other masters.” Telemann at first resisted the Vivaldi model of the three-movement concerto; and when he did attempt the “Italian” style, “it largely smelled of France.” But Telemann proved a quick study, and in several respects he anticipated Vivaldi, especially in their handling of wind instruments. The traverso, or transverse flute, typically appeared in French music. The traverso would soon replace the recorder as the instrument of choice in concerto composition. For Telemann to conceive a concerto (that in E Minor, TWV 52:e1) for both instruments and continuo was virtually to pit the antique style with the burgeoning new style and sonority of contemporary ensemble writing.
From the opening Concerto in E Minor for Traverso, Violin & Strings, Rebel simply alights on every accent with the force of a pride of lions. The playing has dash, vivacity, and clean articulation, with plenty of added embellishments to keep us interested. The violin part, often moving into sustained and intense bariolage, quite seizes our aural breath. The first Adagio in this concerto proves as transparent as the fast movements run the speedway. The Concerto in D for Trumpet, Violin & Strings has David Kjar in full stride, as he and violin-conductor Schwarz wend their athletic way through Telemann’s whip-lash figures. Matthias Maute does the traverso honors with a patented aplomb that has our ears agape. In the Concerto in E Minor for 2 Traversos, Bassoon & Basso Continuo, the streamlined, plastic rhythms enjoy the participation of second traverse player Sophie Lariviere and bassoonist Andrew Schwartz. The sheer audacity of tempo adds a salient character to the Telemann sense of color, undeniably infectious.
This is music-making of ripping vitality and unyielding energy, supported by intelligent scholarship that transcends academics and becomes glowing ensemble. Even for such as I, hardly a “Telemann fan,” I found the entire disc intellectually and sonically compelling from first to last. The engineering – from St. John’s Lutheran Church, Stamford, CT, rec. 21-25 January 2013 – succeeds in making our feet tap at every beat. Kudos to the Bridge production team on this one, including Recording Producer Ann-Marie Barker-Schwartz and executive producers Becky and David Starobin.