Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767, German)

I feel that the popularity and posthumous fame of the “Holy Trinity” of the Baroque era, Bach Handel Vivaldi, has done great disservice to Telemann. But Telemann’s own and singular prolificity is also to blame. With a composer whose catalog numbers some 3000 works – even taking in account that half are lost –, how can you even start to sort out the wheat from the chaff, the exceptional from the run-of-the-mill? And the suspicion will always hover over Telemann’s output that quantity forbids quality. Compared to Telemann’s reported 1043 sacred cantatas… and 46 settings of The Passion (!!!), Bach had the good sense to compose only 300 cantatas (of which circa 200 are extant today), five masses and five Passions (and only two have reached us extant), and Handel 42 operas and 29 oratorios. Even Vivaldi’s infamous “500 times the same Concerto” – an ignorant and unfair quip! – pale in comparison to Telemann’s 600 overture-suites and (only?) 50 concertos…

Not all the music of Telemann I listen to strikes me as exceptional – but it often does. A great resource – Telemann’s complete TWV catalog – is provided by (link will open a new tab) – in French only.

See my reviews of:

Die Tageszeiten TWV 20:39, Daran ist erschienen die Liebe Gottes TWV 1:165. Rheinische Kantorei, Das kleine Konzert, Hermann Max. Capriccio 10 319 (1991)

Festliche Kantaten / Festive Cantatas (TWV 1:1061, 1:1593, 1:320). Dorothee Fries, Mechthild Georg, Andreas Post, Albrecht Pöhl, Collegium vocale des Bach-Chores Siegen, Hannoversche Hofkapelle, Trompeten-Consort Friedemann Immer, Ulrich Stötzel. Hänssler Classic 98.179 (1997) and reissues.

Cantata TWV 14:12 for the Conclusion of Peace 1763  “Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille” by the Trompeten Consort Friedemann Immer, Collegium Vocale Siegen, Hannoversche Hofkapelle, cond. Ulrich Stötzel. Hänssler Classic CD 98.333 (2000) and reissues.

Telemann: Cantata TWV 2:6 “Heilig, heilig, heilig ist Gott”. Monika Mauch, Ralf Popken, Andreas Post, Albrecht Pöhl, Collegium vocale Siegen, Hannoversche Hofkapelle, Trompeten Consort Friedemann Immer, cond. Ulrich Stötzel. Hänssler Classic 98.489 (2005) and reissue

Cantatas TWV 1:873, 1:642, 1:165. Stefanie Wüst, Angela Froemer, Georg Poplutz, Jens Hamann, Collegium vocale Siegen, Hanoversche Hofkapelle, CUlrich Stötzel. Hänssler Classic 98.624 (2011) and reissue

Festive Cantatas (TWV 1:284, 1:413, 1:243). Miriam Feuersinger, Franz Vitzthum, Klaus Mertens, Collegium vocale Siegen, Hannoversche Hofkapelle, Cond. Ulrich Stötzel. Hänssler Classic 98.047 (2015)  and reissue

Telemann: Sacred Music. Hänssler Classic 8 CD PH17014 (2017)
compiles the above and more on 8 CDs, but with no liner notes for history and context, and no texts. Listening to these cantatas and passion without getting the meaning of what is sung and put to music turns them into mere background music, I find. Better go to the original releases – the music deserves it.

Hamburgische Kapitänsmusik, 1755 TWV 15:20 by La Stagione Frankfurt, cond. Michael Schneider, 2 Cpo 999 211-2 (1999)

St Matthew Passion 1746 TWV 5:31. Collegium vocale des Bach-Chores Siegen, La Stravaganza Köln, Ulrich Stötzel. Hänssler Classic CD 98.960 (1994)

to be completed

Comments are welcome