Five vocal works here: this album features three dazzling but previously only little-known compositions for Royals from the astonishingly large Telemann catalogue. The selections have been chosen from the field of commissioned and occasional compositions written for special occasions such as acts of homage, funerary ceremonies, weddings, birthdays, and inaugurations. Two works from Telemann’s primary creative area, that of church music, round off the program.
The three "royal" works featured on this recording have in common points of reference to the particular English kings during whose reigns they were written. All three works are distinguished by scoring for an ensemble with trumpets as “royal instruments” and with a bass singer as the vocal representative of the monarch. These works date from Telemann's late compositional period, and their expressive remit is large. They are interspersed with the earlier cantatas on the disc programme order.
One can hear the dignity in the first , pomp and ceremony in the first aria of teh first cantata, Bleibe, lieber König, leben, TWV 13:12, featuring bass Dominik Wörner:
We last met Hanna Zumsande in Carl Heinrich Graun's opera Polydorus, also on cpo. She joins forces with Wörner in the second cantata, Du bleibest dennoch unser Gott (duets are characterised here as "Aria a 2"): Telemann's use of wind instruments is delightful to convey that sense of peace and happiness in the first "Aria a 2," "Du bleibest dennoch unser Gott":
This cantata is some 30 years earlier in Telemann's output that the first we heard, and has a charming freshness. Listen to Zumsande in the gloriously light "Auf Wünschet Jerusalem Glückl": (and I'm including the folllowing recitative, for bass, which complemnts the aria so beautifully):
A concluding duet which might be describes as "of extreme grace" concludes the cantata in the gentlest of fashions.
The funerary cantata Lieber König, du bist Tod takes us back to 1760 and there is absolutely no doubting the weight of emotion on the backs of the performers in the opening bass aria. Wörner is astonishingly expressive here, gentle, stylish and beautiful of tone. The drum beats ominously, the piece a slow dance of mourning. And how unutterably tender - heartbreaking - is this performance:
The Cantata for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity, Gib, daß ich mich nicht erhebe (1749) is, in the context of this programme, the other interludial cantata, and the only one to hold two Chorales, which bookend the Aria-Recitative-Aria core. The chorales are beautifully performed by Zumsande and Wörner. And what a contrast is the soprano aria, with a notated breathlessness-through-rests in the vocal line, in the soprano aria, "Ich muß entlaufen". Zumsande's agility is remarkable, her tone glistening:
The final cantata dates from 1761, its title leaving no doubt as to its intent: Großmächtigster Monarch der Briten (translated by cpo as "Most puissant monarch of the Britons"). Trumpets return to bring us full circle. The trumpet players here really are fabulous (and just listen to the discipline of the ascending string scales - which manage to be simultaneously joyous!). The bass is once more Dominik Wörner:
After a delicious aria for soprano and two obbligato flutes ("Feindel höret auf zu kriegen"), the cantata ends with this beautiful duet:
In all, a fascinating way to present some magnificently written Telemann cantatas. Performances are phenomenal: barockwerk hamburg (which seems to use lower case letters for its name) is clearly a major player in the world of authentic performance.