on 27 March 2008
Not quite the freshness of 10 years before but this is the companion volume to the set I reviewed rather unfavourably here. This is more debonair, decisive and expressive (in the baroque sense). It's true (see above) that the Viola conc. is the least successful (not such a good piece for a start), but the panache and envole' of this selection is first class. (As the Amazon note saying how surprising it is that T. wrote such good music "even 84 years old" one weeps to behold the idiocy of it, as if composition were... race walking for example.)
Despite the interesting colours and textures of this recording, the exemplary accompanying booklet and the prestige of the ensemble (Musica Antiqua Koln, no less) I was left wanting more. No, hang on, less. Isn't there a tendency nowadays, to 'rejuvenate' and 'reinterpret' familiar works too obsessively, in a relentless search for novelty and acclaim?
Here, by far the best-known concerto is that for viola, in G. Unfortunately, the piece has been trilled and turned almost beyond recognition. What's more, the choice of tempi is occasionally bizarre. The only possible connection in the third movement between 'Andante' and walking is with that faintly ridiculous variety found on the athletics track. In isolation, each of these quirky elements would be tolerable. Together, they are unsettling. The final effect is one of over-decorative fussiness that detracts from Telemann's simplicity of line.
This pernicious impulse to over-embellish afflicts the other better-known work on the CD, the Concerto Polonois in G, which receives particularly excessive ornamentation in the first movement. Here, though, the sonorous depths of the basso continuo, featuring Michael Ducker's cholashon, compensates to a large extent (not least because I'd never even heard of, let alone heard, this instrument before). And here, too, the sprightliness of the Largo doesn't seem too faddish for its own good.
Were it not for the misguided attempt to gild the lily, this could, and perhaps should, have been a definitive recording.