The contemporaries of Bach and Telemann considered the latter the greater composer; Bach was seen as old-fashioned and academic, while Telemann was inexhaustibly inventive, filling out imported forms with brilliant, confident writing. Regardless of how the historical judgment turned out, a performance like this one, with elegant virtuosity not only from recorder soloist Bart Coen and the gambist-director Sigiswald Kuijken, but from every member of the ensemble, allows the listener to hear what the 18th century heard in Telemann. The composer infused the imported forms of the French suite and the Italian concerto with instrumental details that exploited the capabilities of a good orchestra to the hilt (while Bach challenged the players with angular lines that made the counterpoint paramount). Telemann's music is really ideally suited to the capabilities of the historical-instrument group La Petite Bande and Kuijken, and even those who normally prefer a gutsier sound in Baroque music should be won over by these flawlessly suave readings. The sound from Antwerp's AMUZ auditorium is a bit on the sweet side but has the clarity to bring out the exquisite detail in the instrumental work here. A fine Baroque release.
Telemann: Concertos & Suites Review
by James Manheim