Helig, heilig, heilig ist Gott ("Holy, Holy, Holy is God") comes from a portion of the catalog of Georg Philipp Telemann not often sampled on recordings, the cantatas he composed for the consecration of churches. They are 13 in number, minus two that are lost, and certain ones contain some of Telemann's biggest and boldest conceptions in sacred music outside of his Passions. It was written in 1747 for the re-opening of the Dreieinikeitskirche in St. Georg, a suburb of Hamburg. St. Georg was growing rapidly as Hamburgers fled disease and overcrowding in the city. The standing Dreieinikeitskirche proved too small to accommodate the rise in attendees, and it was remodeled at great cost throughout the 1740s. No doubt Telemann's cantata was figured into the budget, although he certainly gave them their money's worth -- it is really like an oratorio, and is identified as such by Hänssler Classic on the front cover, though technically it is still a cantata. Tragically, the Dreieinikeitskirche, once renowned as among the most beautiful Baroque churches in Europe, was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid in July 1943.
Hänssler Classic, in cooperation with Westdeutschen Rundfunk Köln, or "WDR 3," has spared no expense in bringing Helig, heilig, heilig ist Gott to recordings for the first time. Conductor Ulrich Stötzel is singularly dedicated to the cause of making available the major sacred choral works of Telemann that are not yet recorded, which would include most of them. Joined by the Hannoversche Hofkapelle, the Collegium vocale Siegen, and the Trompeten-Consort "Friedemann Immer," Stötzel delivers a performance of this unknown Telemann work that is magnificent in scale and captured in stunning audio quality by WDR 3. Helig, heilig, heilig ist Gott is most certainly not a run-of-the-mill Telemann cantata; the occasion begged for something big and extravagant, and comparisons between this work and Telemann's far more famous Donner-Ode are apt. The only drawback to this recording is bass soloist Albrecht Põhl; although big and loud as he is supposed to be, his tone is wide and wobbly, which proves distracting. However, he has only a few of the score's 26 numbers, and Telemann enthusiasts should have no problem embracing this performance; the choral numbers are splendid, as are the period trumpets and orchestra.