TELEMANN The Concerti-en-Suite
Much as the classification ‘concerto-suites’ does very strongly suggest ‘contents as described on the tin’, some may yet find it useful to know that these are works in which a soloist or soloists is presented first in an opening allegro and then in a series of French dance movements. Telemann’s three surviving ones display some of his most imaginative work, too, even within the context of his music already being such a melting pot of German, French, Italian and Polish musical ingredients. Bravo then to Tempesta di Mare for not only recording them but for being the very first ensemble to bring all three together on the same disc.
The programme is nicely weighted, too, its central position occupied by the sparsest-scored and most intimate Chamber Concerto in G minor, TWV43:g3, allowing us to be played in and out by its pair of F major big guns. So first, TWV54:F1; think fanfares, extravagant scoring and a feast of soloists: two horns, recorder, oboe, bassoon and two each of concertante violins and cellos. Best moments here include the Minuet’s Trio, with its delicate woodwind and brass interplay reconstructed by theorbist Richard Stone after extant horn parts. Then there’s the equally celebratory TWV51:F4, whose own top brass-versus-woodwind moments include a perkily virtuoso conversation in the Allegrezza central Trio (track 14, 1'08"), which has had me rewinding for multiple encores.
TWV51:F4’s first movement has an interesting feature, too, in the form of an indication for improvised cadenza from the solo violinist; not something Telemann had provided in his earlier concertos. Concertmaster Emlyn Ngai’s one is satisfyingly thoughtful; not without panache but also with true emotional light and shade.
Honestly, though, while I’ve picked a few favourite moments, it’s all top-drawer stuff. Not least thanks to the beautifully blended sound of the whole: crisp strings, mellow woodwind, subtle-but-there harpsichord and theorbo and a gorgeous soft-focus halo of horns. In short, every instrumental timbre is beautifully looked after. As is every personality-rich note of Telemann’s.