Georg Philipp Telemann could write a trio sonata in the time that it would take the average person to read an article in a magazine, and with perhaps half the effort. He always took the bassline first, then added the top line or solo, and finally added all the obbligato stuff in between, and -- presto! -- Telemann was done. Telemann was also enormously prolific in the production of trio sonatas; for example, the TWV number for the last work on Brilliant Classics' two-disc set, Telemann: Trio Sonatas for Violin, Flute and Basso Continuo and for Oboe, Recorder & Basso Continuo (complete), "TWV 42:F15," means that it is Telemann's trio sonata No. 15 in the key of F major; he wrote 21 sonatas in that key alone. Even taking that into consideration, Telemann was not a cookie cutter Baroque composer of trio sonatas; they are quite variable in style and sound and demonstrate a questing mind at work. Telemann at the very least did not seek to bore an audience with his trio sonatas just because he could produce them with such facility. This is the first thing that comes to mind when listening to this Brilliant Classics release, which is a combination of two Tripla Concordia discs originally issued in the early 2000s by Italian label Stradivarius.
The first disc was recorded live in Cogliari in 1997, and on this occasion Tripla Concordia was joined by special guest violinist Fabio Biondi. On the second, a studio date from 2001, the group is joined by redoubtable Italian soprano Monica Piccinini on Telemann's solo cantata "Da Jesu, deinen Ruhm zu mehren" from the 1731 Supplement to the Harmonischer Gottendienst, a cycle of 72 sacred cantatas designed to support another cycle of 72 sacred cantatas! Although not well known outside Europe, Tripla Concordia is able to attract such high-powered company as they are an excellent group with a sure command of Baroque performance practice and the often skeletal score materials left behind by figures such as Telemann. Both discs are completely satisfactory from a sense of performance; the first disc in particular bristles with gusto, perhaps in part because Biondi is there driving events along, but also as the Tripla Concordia is so good. The reverb on the first disc is a little more present than is desirable on recordings of chamber music, but one gets used to it; on the second disc the artificial studio reverb imparts a bright and slightly glassy quality to Piccinini's vocal. Nevertheless, those who fancy Telemann's occasional streak of willful oddness by the sudden breakdown of the entire texture in the cantata, once again affirming that though prolific as he was, Georg Philipp Telemann was always looking out for the spot where he could insert something different and unique to liven up, say, an abbreviated version of a cantata intended for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity.