Kölner Akademie continues excellent Telemann Christmas series

This volume features two Advent and two Christmas cantatas by Georg Philipp Telemann. The difference between these liturgical seasons has blurred over time. But in the 1700s there was a clear difference. Advent was the season anticipated the birth of Christ — hopeful, but waiting. Christmas marked the arrival of Christ, and the twelve days after it was a time of celebration.

The Advent cantatas presented here are true to that tradition. “Was für ein jauchzendes Gedränge” translates as “What a joyous throng surrounds the King of all the world as he makes his entrance!” As the title suggests, this is indeed a pretty upbeat cantata.

In cantatas of this period the choir usually sang verses of a familiar hymn. These verses often framed the recitatives and arias of the soloist. The hymn Telemann used for “Was für ein jauchzendes Gedränge” is still sung today. It’s the hymn “How Brightly Shown the Morning Star.”

“Eilt zu, ruft laut, ihr längst verlangten Boten, ruft Zion” (Make haste, ye long awaited messengers, cries Zion) is another upbeat Advent cantata. Here the chorus is given a bouncy melody, extorting action.

The two Christmas cantatas are music of praise. The final selection, “Da die Zeit erfüllet war” (But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son) is both celebratory and heroic. And this was just for the second day of Christmas!

The Kölner Akademie has a clean, clear sound. The soloists are all very good, and they have a nice vocal blend.

Bach’s Christmas cantatas get plenty of airplay. But these deserve a listen as well. Telemann was quite adept at setting text and using the music to convey the music’s emotion. A welcome addition to the catalog of Baroque seasonal recordings.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Christmas Cantatas III
Hanna Herfurtner, soprano; Carola Günther, alto; Mirko Ludwig, Fabian Strotmann, tenors; Peter Kooij, bass
Kölner Akademie; Michael Alexander Willens, conductor
CPO 555 396-2

More Recent Posts