Hermann Max keeps on impressing me with his interpretations (I've heard his Bach Matthew passion and liked it very much). In this case he brings together a reverent but emotionally filled production of just a few of the many, many, many Telemann choral pieces that have been neglected over the years. Special praise goes to the counter-tenor Cordier, the tenor Wilfried Jochens, and the two basses Wimmer and Shreckenberg. But really, all the soloists are exceptional. The choir is wonderful. I've never heard such good sopranos, except for maybe Hengelbrock's women. Max really pushes the envelope on a couple pieces, especially one of the bass solos that he pushes along so fast that you can hardly hear the words. Amazingly, the interpretation works for the song and the energy is like nothing I've heard. The orchestra is as professional as any period ensemble I've heard. For those who like to follow Suzuki's Bach cycle, they might be interested in knowing that Achira Tachikawa, the 1st counter-tenor used by Suzuki in his cycle, is one of the four altos in the choir (this recording was made before Suzuki's first recording was). This is my first experience with Telemann, so I can't give a fair comparison to Bach, but I can say that I loved this cd and believe anyone who loves baroque Lutheran sacred music should pick this up as a wonderful find. I can't believe that nobody else has reviewed this yet! I am happy to be the first. Five enthusiastic stars!
Hermann Scherchen's performances of these Brandenburg Concerts avoids the normally expected exaltation of opening and closing movements conferred by most performances. Instead, he opts for a beautifully serene approach to the score, making it more reflective, thoughtful and expansive, hightlighting the lyrical flow that emanates from it.
Scherchen was one of the leading conductors in the middle part of the twentieth century, especially valued for his pioneering performances of the contemporary music of his time. He was essentially self-taught as a musician and became a violist in the Blüthner Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic when he was 16. In 1911 he was an assistant to Arnold Schoenberg in the preparation of Pierrot Lunaire for performance.
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (Königsberg , January 24, 1776 – Berlin, June 25, 1822), who changed his third name to Amadeus in honour to Mozart, is one of the best-known representatives of German Romanticism, and a pioneer of the fantasy genre, with a taste for the macabre. He was also a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist.
As a musician, he composed about 80 works, including several operas, among them Aurora (1811-12), after Franz von Holbein, and Undine (1814), after Baron Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's tale, one symphony, sacred and chamber music, as well as instrumental pieces.
Graun was in his mid-twenties when he composed this Grand Passion . It is a surprisingly mature work, full of subtle gems. When first listening to this two-CD album, I wrote: “The music is very pleasant. Although it is quite tuneful, little of it is memorable and at two hours tends to wear out its welcome. There is almost a monotonous similarity of one number to the next. It needs something rousing like the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus.” Repeated hearings of this album have increased my appreciation considerably. Even Handel liked this Passion , and quoted some of its music in his own works.