Telemann Complete Violin Concertos Vol. 7 takes a side trip

In their liner notes, CPO assures us that this seventh volume of Telemann concertos is not the last. I suspect the program for this release prompted that hasty reassurance. One of the three concertos is by Telemann. The other two are doubtful — and one of those almost definitely not by Telemann.

Usually, when a recording series gets to doubtful and spurious works, it’s the end. All the composer’s legitimate music has been recorded, so only the odds and ends remain. CPO is right, though — this is far from the end of the series. There are plenty more legit Telemann concertos left to record.

So why present this program? I can only guess. Telemann was an incredibly prolific composer. But he was also a gifted one.  The quality of Telemann’s music stands out when compared with these doubtful works

That’s not to say the other two works are awful. They’re just not quite in the same league. Though one comes close.

The legit work is the Concerto in G major TWV:51:G4. This is a standard three-movement concerto. Telemann places great demands on the soloist, and the music is tightly organized.

The Overture (Suite) in A major TWV 55:A8 is quite different. While most scholars attribute this to Telemann, there’s still some doubt. If it is by Telemann, it’s an early work. The concerts en ouverture was a transitional form, midway between suite and concerto. The short-winded movements make this a series of vignettes rather than cohesive work.

The Overture (Suite) in A major TWV 55:A4 is most likely not by Telemann. But it may be by  Johann Gottfried Vogler. Vogler was a violinist and composer who worked with and admired Telemann.

Vogler was a good composer, but not on Telemann’s level. This particular work has that good-not-great quality to it. The tunes are pleasant, but not memorable.

Elizabeth Wallfisch and the Wallfisch Band approach all three works with the same seriousness of intent. Wallfisch performs with energy. Her phrasing keeps the music moving along. And the ensemble is right there with her.

Hearing authentic Telemann next to suspect Telemann was revealing. There seemed to be a definite quality to the G major concerto that was somehow missing in the suites. All three were enjoyable to listen to, but for me, the “real” Telemann stood out.

An interesting program choice, for sure — and one that worked for me.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Complete Violin Concertos, Vol. 7
Elizabeth Wallfisch; The Wallfisch Band
CPO

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