Kölner Akademie’s Telemann Easter Cantatas Highly Recommended

Let’s be clear. This is a mere sampling of Georg Philipp Telemann’s output for Easter. After all, he composed Easter cantatas and oratorios for about sixty years.  And often more than one for a specific date.

This release focuses on works composed during the 1720s. Telemann was in his 30s, working in Frankfurt. He was the city’s music director. And Kapellmeister for Frankfurt’s five largest churches.

He had a lot of musical forces at his disposal and a lot of new ideas. For example, Telemann borrowed the concept of da capo arias from Italian operas. During this period, Telemann composed cycles of sacred works. These cycles covered the entire liturgical year.

That meant 72 works — plus cantatas for Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas (each of which had three feast days). The five cantatas collected here represent a minute fraction of Telemann’s output!

Two of the cantatas come from the “Jahrgang ohne Recitativ” (Annual Cycle without Recitative).  “Ich war tot, und siehe, ich bin lebendig” TVWV 1:872 is for the first day of Easter. “Brannte nicht unser Herz in uns” TVWV 1:131, is for the second.

The two works share musical themes. They’re not in sequence on the album. But when I listened to them one after the other, the connections became clear.

For the Easter Sunday morning service, Teleman composed “Triumph! Ihr Frommen, freuet euch” TVWV 1:1424. The trumpets sound and all is right with the world. This is the most joyous and joyous-sounding of the five cantatas on this release.

This is the fifth Telemann release by the Kölner Akademie and Michael Alexander Willens. And it’s their 42nd release of music from the Baroque and Classical Eras.

The musicianship is superb. Willens’ direction brings out the individual characters of each cantata. Telemann was prolific, but he was also profound. This collection shows how he could approach the same theme from different angles. And each approach results in a work of substance and beauty.

Recommended.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Easter Cantatas
Johanna Winkel, soprano; Margot Oitzinger, alto; Georg Poplutz, tenor; Peter Kooij, bass
Kölner Akademie; Michael Alexander Willens, conductor
CPO

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