Pál Németh

Telemann: Christmas Cantatas

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AllMusic Review by

This disc by the Capella Savaria under veteran conductor Pál Németh marks another step forward for Hungary's growing complement of historically oriented performers. They choose a program intelligently and deliver performances that make dramatic and musical sense. The booklet lays a bit too much stress on the performers' supposed rescue of Telemann from historical obscurity. There have, after all, been many dozens of Telemann recordings in the years since about 1990. The composer's sacred music does, however, remain a mostly unplowed field. These cantatas for Christmas season (there are three, flanked by other works) offer an ideal introduction to several strands of Telemann's musical thinking. The music is completely different in effect from Bach's cantatas, even though the individual conventions used are for the most part common to both composers. Consider the cantata Hosianna! Dieses soll die Losung sein (Hosanna! This will be our redemption), with its dialogic structure featuring parts for philosophical concepts such as joy, humility, and faith, as well as an angel. Telemann chooses crowd-pleasing effects over intricate structures, and this cantata is a series of sharp, colorful exclamations. The cantata Uns ist ein Kind geboren (Unto Us a Child Is Born) has festive trumpet parts that Bach might have written, but they are placed in contrast with sweet, almost seductive melodies that look forward to the Classical era. The closest to Bach of the three cantatas is the rather formally constructed O Jesu Christ, dein Kripplein ist (O Jesus Christ, Thy Manger Is...), but this work too breathes a fresh melodic spirit. The performances beautifully realize the distinctive qualities of the music. Soprano soloist Mária Zádori creates an odd, shimmering sound for the Angel in Hosianna! Diesese soll di Losung sein that instantly focuses the listener's attention on the work's structure. The Capella Savaria's Baroque trumpets are equal to their parts, which are unusually difficult for the generally instrument-friendly Telemann. The opening Ouverture à la Pastorelle is a unique suite with one of Telemann's great programmatic strokes: the "Carillon" (track 7) would make the work an ideal opener for any orchestral concert. About the only complaint is the final cantata included, Christoph Bernhard's Fürchtet euch nicht (Do Not Fear), which was composed several decades earlier than the rest of the music on the disc. It's pleasant enough, but it neither stands out nor fits well with the other pieces. This disc is nevertheless recommended for those exploring Telemann's music.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Overture à la Pastorelle, suite for strings & continuo in F major, TWV 55:F7
1
4:46
2
1:06
3
1:29
4
2:25
5
1:52
6
0:46
7
1:05
Hosianna, dieses soll, sacred cantata for chorus, 2 flutes (or oboes), 3 trumpets, 2 horns, timpani, strings & continuo, TWV 1:810
8
1:12
9
0:56
10
0:18
11
0:29
12
0:29
13
0:47
14
0:45
15
0:44
16
1:36
17
0:46
18
0:40
19
1:36
20
0:24
21
1:02
22
1:07
23
0:36
24
1:37
O Jesu Christ, dein Kripplein ist, sacred cantata for voice, chorus, strings & continuo (KJE), TWV 1:1200
25
0:36
26
6:08
27
0:57
28
3:50
29
0:47
Uns ist ein Kind geboren (IV), sacred cantata for 3-part chorus, 3 cornets, timpani, strings & continuo (MLG), TWV 1:1453
30
3:05
31
1:01
32
0:54
33
5:03
34
1:01
35
4:20
36
3:10
Fürchtet euch nicht, "Christmas concerto" for voice & orchestra
37
0:39
38
1:41
39
0:41
40
0:31
41
0:42
42
0:56
43
0:42
44
1:06
blue highlight denotes track pick