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This is a recording decked with anniversaries. It marks the 250th anniversary of Telemann’s death (1767), the 500th anniversary of the Reformation’s birth (1517) – and its opening cantata is one Telemann very probably composed to celebrate the Reformation’s 200th anniversary in 1717. ‘Wertes Zion, sei getrost’ is a splendidly festive piece, with trumpets to the fore; they garland the voices in duets for soprano/bass and alto/ tenor, and add fiercely martial fanfares in the chorus ‘Seid böse, ihr Völker’.

The disc’s remaining four cantatas, which all receive their world premiere recordings here, show Telemann’s versatility within the strictures of church music. ‘Herr Gott, der du uns hast von unsrer Jugendalso commemorates the Reformation, albeit in a quieter fashion, using only strings plus alto and tenor soloists; the alto aria, ‘Kraftund Worte wollen fehlen’, is both beguiling and unusual in its abrupt contrasts of mood.

The title cantata, a brief, early work for solo bass, and the relatively late (1757) ‘Welch’ Getümmel erschüttert den Himmel’ were both composed for the feast of St Michael: the latter begins with four movements for bass that depict turmoil in Heaven, before chorus, tenor and then soprano (duetting with trumpet) usher in the ensuing peace. ‘Jesu wirst Du bald erscheinen’ joyfully anticipates the Last Judgement.

The eponymous tenor aria, through which Telemann weaves a chorale tune played by cornet and trombones, is particularly striking, and beautifully sung by Hans Jörg Mammel. Vocal and instrumental performances are commendable throughout, although a 40-piece choir and a resonant church acoustic aren't an ideal combination.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing