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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767)
Klingende Geographie
see end of review for track listing
Musica Fiorita/Daniela Dolci
rec. January 2011, Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland. DDD
PAN CLASSICS PC10291 [68:55]

Telemann aficionados, don't get excited. The Klingende Geographie is not a recently-discovered collection of compositions by your favourite composer. It is not even from his pen - well, not in this form. In 1959 the German musicologist Adolf Hoffmann selected a number of movements from Telemann's orchestral suites and published them under this title, paraphrased in English, a 'musical geography'. He was inspired by a collection of songs written by Telemann: the Singende Geographie. These were based on a kind of geographical textbook in verse form, written in 1708 by Johann Christoph Losius. Hoffmann's intention, in his own words, was to provide an "instrumental counterpart" to Telemann's song collection.
Hoffmann selected a number of movements which refer to European countries or regions of Germany. These are not hard to find, because Telemann loved this kind of stuff. Several of his orchestral suites are completely devoted to it, such as the so-called Völker-Ouvertüre (TWV 55,B5) and the Ouverture des nations anciens et modernes (TWV 55,G4). In his liner-notes Peter Reidermeister sees here one of the reasons that Telemann felt attracted to French music: "the art of characterisation which frequently involved onomatopoeia and programme music". However, the genre of musical depiction was quite common elsewhere. Several Italian composers of the 17th century wrote programme music and let us not forget Vivaldi's concertos, many of which have nicknames. Germany had its own tradition as various violin virtuosos liked to create battle scenes and imitations of instruments or animals, especially in music for violin. Not for every text in Losius' book could Hoffmann find a 'geographical counterpart' in the orchestral suites. In those cases he selected other pieces by association: for the Low Countries, for instance, he took Les Flots (The waves) from the Overture in A (TWV 55,A2) and a Pastorale from the Overture in e minor (TWV 55,e8) for the Convent of Hildesheim.
I don't know - and the liner-notes don't tell us - to what extent Hoffmann arranged Telemann's movements. In his foreword he suggested Telemann's songs and these instrumental movements be performed in turn. To that end he sometimes transposed some of the movements. Whether his transpositions have been followed here I don't know. I have not compared every movement with the catalogue of Telemann's works, but at least a number of them are heard in a different scoring from the original. The recorder is prominent among these inclusions. The opening Overture which is the first movement from the above-mentioned Völker-Ouvertüre is scored for strings and basso continuo, but here the recorder is also used. The last text in the Losius collection was a chorale; this was not set by Telemann. Hoffmann used the melody of the hymn Nun ruhen alle Wälder to a harmonisation by Telemann. That is also performed here. The disc closes with another early work from his pen, the Concerto in d minor for two violins, viola and bc.
Much as I love Telemann's music and as good as all these movements are, this disc is probably a bit too much of a good thing. His overtures are always entertaining because of the great variety in character between the movements. The musical depictions which he often includes in his overtures are alternated with more 'regular' dance movements without any specific meaning. Here we get a whole array of 'special effects'. Such a sequence hardly does Telemann justice. Let us not forget that Hoffmann published his collection at a time when most of Telemann's music was unknown; the composer wasn't always taken that seriously anyway. That position has fundamentally changed, I am happy to say, and today his oeuvre is thoroughly explored. Musicians and audiences are discovering how many treasures are still hidden in his large output. Many of his orchestral suites are regularly played and recorded and that makes a programme like this feel slightly redundant. I certainly won't return to this disc and prefer complete suites instead. For an hour of entertainment this disc will do: the performances are alright, but not something to get excited about. In some cases the performers have not been able to resist the temptation to exaggerate the effects. I am not very enthusiastic about the Concerto in d minor. I have heard better performances, and the participation of a psaltery is rather odd.
Johan van Veen

Track listing
Overture (TWV 55:B5,1) [3:4]
About the Globe: Perpetuum mobile (TWV 55:D12,2) [0:35]
Europe: Entrée (TWV 55:C2,4) [1:51]
Portugal: Les Portugais anciens et modernes (TWV 55:B5,6) [2:09]
Spain: Sarabande (TWV 55:D9,6) [1:52]
Switzerland: Les Suisses (TWV 55:B5,4) [0:58]
Welschland (northern Italy): Air à l'italien (TWV 55:B4,2) [1:28]
Central Italy: La Badinerie italienne (TWV 55:fis1,4) [1:36]
France: Menuet I & II (TWV 55:B5,2) [2:42]
Provence: Rigaudon (TWV 55:E1,8) [0:40]
Lotharingia-Burgundy: Bourrée (TWV 55:D12,4) [0:54]
England, Scotland, Ireland: Gigue (TWV 55:D10,6) [1:11]
Scotland: Hornpipe (TWV 55:g2,6) [1:06]
United Netherlands: Les Flots (TWV 55:A2,2) [2:29]
Spanish Netherlands: Carillon (TWV 55:F7,7) [0:33]
Germany: Les Allemands anciens et modernes (TWV 55:G4,3) [2:37]
Austria: Rondeau (TWV 55:d1,5) [1:47]
Bavaria: Prélude (TWV 55:G1,3) [0:52]
Franconia-Swabia-Burgundy: Fantaisie (TWV 55:G2,6) [1:13]
Upper and Lower Rhine: Les Cornes de Visbade (TWV 55:B4,3) [1:23]
Westphalia: Mercure (TWV 55:B3,8) [0:42]
Lower Saxony: Air (TWV 55:B2,4) [2:23]
Electorate Hanover: Gavotte en rondeau (TWV 55:G2,3) [0:50]
Convent Hildesheim: Pastorale (TWV 55:e8,2) [1:09]
Duchy Braunschweig-Wolffenbüttel: Réjouissance (TWV 55:d2,4) [0:55]
Upper Saxony: Fugue (TWV 55:c2,4) [2:22]
Bohemia: Hanaquoise (TWV 55:D3,6) [1:18]
Scandinavia: Les Danois anciens et modernes (TWV 55:G4,5) [2:26]
Sweden: Les Suédois anciens et modernes (TWV 55:G4,4) [3:03]
Russia: Les Moscovites (TWV 55:B5,5) [1:17]
Poland: Polonaise (TWV 55:D13,6) [1:17]
Hungary: March (TWV 55:F6,4) [1:07]
European Turkey: Les Turcs (TWV 55:B5,3) [1:56]
Asia: Les Janissaires (TWV 55:D17,2) [0:50]
Asian Turkey: Mezzetin en turc (TWV 55:B8,7) [1:06]
Africa: Mourky (TWV 55:g1,4) [1:23]
America: L'Espérance de Mississippi (TWV 55:B11,6) [2:25]
Closing chorale: Nun senket euch, ihr Masten [1:13]

Concerto for two violins, viola and bc in d minor (TWV 43,d2) [10:40]