Georg Philipp Telemann's Tafelmusik is a collection of orchestral and chamber music in three large parts, each consisting of half a dozen works. It contains plenty of colorful music that's often heard by the piece, and the entire set, covering four CDs, represents a serious investment of time and money, even at the discounted price of this Harmonia Mundi release. Yet there's a strong case that a good Baroque music collection and certainly a library should contain a copy of the whole set, as indeed many collections did in the middle of the 18th century. The work's title and concept are modest: Tafelmusik means "table music," and each work in the individual sets is meant to correspond with a course of a meal. But the utilitarian veneer conceals an ambitious and synoptic work. The booklet notes (in French, English, and German) goes into quite a bit of detail: not only did Telemann participate in the ongoing effort to reconcile and combine the French and Italian styles, he also deepened his stylistic survey in several other ways. Most strikingly, he wrote French works with Italian elements, and vice versa. The Overture in D major that opens Part II (CD 2, tracks 10-14) is ostensibly a French form, but its individual movements avoid dance movements and instead exploit the group contrasts of Italian music. Further, the combination of orchestral and chamber music, which Telemann explicitly specified (and which ought to give pause to groups that automatically assume small ensembles are best), is unusual in itself. On top of all this, the occasional dashes of Polish folk rhythms (try the finale of the Quartet in D minor, CD 2, track 18) and the appearance of the new genres of sinfonia and quartet all combine to give the collection, taken as a whole, a brilliantly kaleidoscopic quality. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra simply does not have a weak point in addressing the set's many demands. Vivacious soloists, crisp orchestral ensemble work, a certain feel for Telemann's pure flair: it's all here, and with absolutely top-notch sound, it adds up to a must-have for serious Baroque enthusiasts.