Dip Your Ears, No. 65 

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G.P. Telemann, Suites & Concerto for recorder and orchestra, Akamus / Maurice Steger
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G.P. Telemann, Recorder Quartets, MAK / Goebel

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G.P. Telemann, "Water Music", MAK / Goebel
Georg Philipp Telemann is dear to my heart, admittedly, but even if he is not always as inspired as J. S. Bach, in his best moments he rivals his (then far less famous) colleague and friend easily and proves every bit if not more enjoyable than his London-based good friend G. F. Handel. (Telemann was Godfather to C. P. E. Bach, Johann Sebastian’s second son – and Handel sent exotic flowers from London to Hamburg that the florophile Telemann loved.) Apart from the Tafelmusik and several violin concertos, his overtures are the most immediately appealing. The “Water-overture” (Hamburger Ebb und Flut or Musica maritime) is one of them – and gives the more famous Handel work of similar name a run for its money. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin’s recording (led by first violinist Georg Kallweit) is the third I’ve come across and it shoots to the top of the list, right next to Musica Antiqua Köln’s with Reinhard Goebel. You can feel the waves rolling softly in and out of the Hamburg harbor – but programmatic as this might be, it’s sublime music on its own account and the musicians of Akamus dig in that it is a joy. Preceding this marvel is the Suite in A minor TWV 55:a2 for treble recorder, strings and basso continuo as well as the dazzling treble recorder concerto in C major TWV 51:C1. The recorder may still not be taken seriously as a solo instrument by those who only remember it as an awfully squeaky blow-stick from primary school music class – but Maurice Steger (already impressive in the Recorder Quartets on Archiv) plays with such breathtaking virtuosity that any silly smile is wiped off anyone’s face and replaced with the look of bewilderment: the man plays like possessed – just check out the furiously paced Tempo di Minuet that closes the concerto. Brilliant. And good enough to mint new recorder-lovers among those who listen.

Harmonia Mundi HMC 901917

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