Cantatas for high voice, recorder & basso continuo
Mona Julsrud (soprano)
Frode Thorsen (recorder)
Hans Knut Sveen (harpsichord & organ)
Markku Luolajan-Mikkola (cello)
Recorded 11-13 October 2005 in Sofienberg kirke, Oslo
CD No: TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0037 Duration: 67 minutes Reviewed: December 2006
Telemann Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst (Volume 1)
Reviewed by William Yeoman
After so much enjoying Bergen Barokks first disc for Toccata Classics (trio sonatas by Georg von Bertouch all premier recordings), I am delighted to see this group embarking on this new project, a complete recording of the 72 sacred cantatas that comprise Telemanns "Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst", of which this is the first volume.
Again, Bergen Barokk is exploring new territory: much of Telemann's collection, the first complete cantata cycle for the church year ever to be published (in 1726), has never been recorded before. The present volume contains six cantatas, all of which are scored for high voice (here a soprano), recorder obbligato and basso continuo. Each follows the same aria-recitative-aria pattern while making extensive use of melodic and harmonic word-painting.
These are delightful works, melodically attractive and short enough to appeal to those of us who prefer sacred sound-bites to, say, Bachs mighty edifices. Mona Julsrud sings with great clarity and beauty of tone while eschewing undue emphasis on already salient features, allowing Telemanns effective writing to carry the day. Her ornamentation on the A-section repeats of the da capo arias is crisply executed, as is recorder-player Frode Thorsens, who elsewhere is given much work to do by way of instrumental introductions, and the ritornelli are an almost continuous counterpoint to the vocal line. His affecting tone and expressive phrasing greatly contributes to the elucidation of the text. Hans Knut Sveen fills out Markku Luolajan-Mikkolas sometimes lively bass-line with great taste while being ever-attentive to the soloists.
The recorded sound perfectly conveys the requisite intimacy; Thorsens booklet notes are superb, with much background information and analysis. Full translations of the German texts are provided, as are the biblical texts on which the cantatas are a commentary.