Telemann Moral Cantatas uplift — at least musically

This release combines selections from two self-published works by Georg Philipp Telemann. VI moralische Cantaten and 12 Fantaisies pour la basse de violle sold by subscription in 1735. Alternating between the two collections makes an appealing program.

The Six Moral Cantatas are just that — music with a message. And whether the subject is luck, parsimony, time, or hope, the message seems to be the same. All things in moderation.

While the text may not be that inspiring, the music certainly is. Telemann effectively illuminates the libretto with a variety of effects. The cantata about time has sections that tick along with regularity. The cantata about hope has a wistful quality to it, and so on.

Countertenor Benno Schachtner sings with remarkable clarity. His voice has a warm, rich sound I quite liked. He’s also adept at delivering the intent of the words. Following the recording with the printed text was enlightening.

The release includes all six of the Moral Cantatas, but only four of the twelve viola da gamba solo fantasias (it is only a single CD, after all). While not as complex as Bach solo cello sonatas, Telemann’s fantasias are quite engaging in their own right.

Like Bach, Telemann uses double stops and quick arpeggios to suggest two or even three concurrent musical lines from a single instrument.

Simone Eckert performs flawlessly. Her attacks are quite smooth, her fingering sure. Eckert also brings out the structure of these works, letting us hear how these multiple lines weave together.

Based on this release, I’d say 1735 was a banner year for Telemann. Highly recommended.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Moralische Cantate, TWV 20:23-28
Benno Schachtner, countertenor
Hamburger Ratsmuick; Simone Eckert, viola da gamba
CPO 555 141-2

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