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Telemann: Johannes-Passion (1745) /Bott · Connolly · Pinheiro · van der Crabben · Defrancq · Capella Brugensis · Collegium Instrumentale Bugense · Peire

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9996e6cc) out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97f774e0) out of 5 stars Excellent performance of an interesting work 25 July 2010
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When an afficionado of choral music thinks "Passion" he or she thinks J S Bach, perhaps Heinrich Schütz, almost exclusively. And while the absolute masterpiece status of JS Bach's surviving Passion settings is not doubted, it is none-the-less a pity because there are several other very worthwhile settings from the Baroque: Scarlatti's St. John Passion (in Latin), Reinhard Keiser's St. Matthew Passion (superb!), Kuhnau's St. Mark Passion, and the settings of Telemann, to name a few (Bach copied out Keiser's setting, a testament to the esteem in which he held it).
This setting of Telemann's, actually a compilation of St John's narrative and the poetic "Brockes Passion" that was popular at the time, is a well-crafted, thoughtful, melodic work. The Capella Brugensis (voices) and Collegium Brugense (orchestra), led by Patrick Peire, do a splendid job performing this rarely if ever heard music. The work is concentrated, surprisingly, in the solo voices-- I say "surprisingly" because most passion narratives prominently feature the Chorus (besides of course, the Evangelist and Christ), which provide the turba (crowd) scenes, but also open and close most settings and also provide commentary at key points, just as the non-character soloists do. Telemann's setting contains a good deal of introspective solo writing, after a brief opening chorale the CHorus is not heard again for sometime. Most turba statements are short, straightforward declarations (which is the norm), but they are not without drama when speaking.
Which brings me to my next point: this is not a dramatic passion setting. This particular work, which certainly has overtly dramatic moments, is more thoughtful, inward looking and contemplative than one might expect, which may be an aspect that keeps it from becoming a more popular, 'box office' work of music. But it is worth getting to know, and if you have good recordings of Bach's Passions, and Messiah, then this would make an excellent addition to you collection of Baroque vocal masterpieces. Because of the sheer volume of work Telemann created, much of it for musical evenings, his modern reputation is that of a talented, industrious but not exceptionally great tune-smith, who can be turned to for something light to fill out a concert program or feature a particular soloist (he seems to have created more concertos and suites for a wider variety of instruments than even Vivaldi). But not necessarily regarded as 'great.' This work, along with his "Day of Judgement" oratorio, gives the lie to that sentiment, finding Telemann to be a thoughtful, resourceful and imaginative craftsman who could step up and deliver the "master-craftsman" goods that are usually associated with Bach, Rameau and Handel.
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