Georg Telemann: Christmas Oratorios

review telemann x1 cong

This is proper Christmas music, all trumpets, the sound of angels — or at least a heavenly chorus and — and proper singers.

Telemann was a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Despite being self-taught, he ended up in Hamburg as musical director of the five main churches. He was a friend to JS Bach, who made Telemann the godfather of his son and knew Handel, and was compared to both. He also apparently knew what the public wanted to hear, which may explain why this collection, while verging on the “heavy” — in the operatic and religious sense —always stays on the side of the more secular, and is highly listenable.

The sleeve notes report that Telemann wrote a year of oratorios — a year-cycle of 72 church cantatas — and some of these works are from there. The works have only recently been rediscovered and are recorded here for the first time.

The text comes from German poet Albrecht Zell and English translations are given.

Doubtless some people will read the lyric but we’ve just been enjoying the overall sound. Stirring and reverent music for Christmas Eve or early Christmas Day.

It features Monika Mauch, soprano; Nicole Pieper, alto; Georg Poplutz, tenor; Klaus Mertens, bass I; Raimonds Spogis, bass II; Manfred Buhl, bass III; Joel Urch, bass IV, and Kolner Akademie and Michael Alexander Willens.

Out on CPO 555 254-2.

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