Telemann: Complete Violin Concertos, Vol. 3

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TELEMANN Overture Concertos: in D, TWV 55: D14; in A, TWV 55: A7. Double Violin Concerto in G, TWV 52: G1 1 Elizabeth Wallfisch (vn, cond); 1 Susan Carpenter-Jacobs (vn); Wallfisch Band (period instruments) CPO 777 473-2 (60:42)

I recommended an earlier collection of Telemann’s violin concertos by Elizabeth Wallfisch and the Orfeo Baroque Orchestra on cpo 999 900-2 in Fanfare 28:1. The new one includes two overture concertos as well as a double concerto. Christian Moritz-Bauer’s booklet notes explain that the overture concertos feature solo instruments that occasionally emerge from the texture. The two works in this form included in Wallfisch’s program last each more than 20 minutes and consist of multiple suite-like movements (seven in the Concerto in D Major and in the Concerto in A Major). After an Ouverture, the Concerto in D Major sets out on a series of movements with French titles, including a piquant Badinage (with a virtuosic violin solo), a Rondeau that features a violin solo that rises from the orchestra, a Menuet (I and II), a Sarabande, a heady Caprice, and a Gigue. The solo parts sometimes swirl, in their technically most challenging moments, in patterns familiar from the works of Leclair or, transposed to higher registers, those of Locatelli—though perhaps tamer in these overtures in their technical demands. Sometimes, too, they sound more like the solos that sometimes crop up in Corelli’s concerti grossi. Wallfisch and her ensemble produce a crisp sound that the engineers have faithfully conveyed, and the timbre serves as a medium for the transmission of musical ideas that they present with a gusto enhanced by rhythmic nuances that make the music seem perpetually fresh and inventive rather than rigidly patterned or mechanical.

The second concerto on the program consists of movements that, after the first (Ouverture), all go under the name “Invention,” and each of these bears a further French tempo (or stylistic) designation. In the first section of the Ouverture, Wallfisch’s ensemble (the solo violin is absent, except for its role in the orchestra, in this section, although it appears modestly in the fast one) executes roulades with breathtaking precision. That overture lasts more than eight minutes (as did that of the Concerto in D Major—almost a third of the entire work). The First Invention ( Modéré ) features short, cocky violin solos, which Wallfisch sharply characterizes. Similar solos appear in Invention II ( Légèrement ), in Invention IV ( Avec doceur ), in Invention V ( Vivement ), and in Invention VI; Invention II consists of a number of contrasting musical ideas strung together, including almost plaintive violin solos in the lyrical sections, which Wallfisch plays most expressively.

The last concerto on the program, one for two violins, returns to the four-movement form that the notes relate to Corelli’s four-movement patterns in the sonatas da chiesa . The first movement, Grave, features interplay between the two soloists (Susan Carpenter-Jacobs joins Wallfisch in this work), with the harmonies in a stately procession and dissonances as logically regulated as those in Corelli’s opening movements. The two violins, well matched in these performances both in tone and in technique, participate almost as part of the orchestra in the fugue-like second movement rather than as soloists in a Mozart sinfonia or even in one of Vivaldi’s concertos for two violins.

The recorded sound places Wallfisch just a bit forward in front of the orchestral sound, which placement may be particularly appropriate in these concertos, with textures featuring the sudden appearance of a solo that blends after a time back into the orchestral sound. Only newcomers to Telemann’s violin concertos who expect something like Vivaldi’s virtuosic concertos could be disappointed. Recommended for their lively and at times dashing performances.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 777473-2

  • UPC: 761203747320

  • Label: CPO

  • Composer: Georg Philipp Telemann

  • Conductor: Elizabeth Wallfisch

  • Performer: Elizabeth Wallfisch, Susan Carpenter-Jacobs