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GRAMOPHONE (09/2015)
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DHM  88875069922 

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Reviewer: Lindsay Kemp


Who would have thought, even just a few years ago, that we would be seeing a CD whose purpose is to offer the complete Telemann sonatas for flute, viola da gamba and continuo? Well here they are, six of them, apparently composed for musicians at the Darmstadt court, who included gamba virtuoso Ernst Christian Hesse among their number. Together with two chamber concertos for those same instruments plus bassoon, the result is 75 minutes of Telemann at his most skilfully affable and seriously polite; no jokey character pieces and few signs of Polish folk influence here.


Bassorilievi, from Italy are surely right to emphasise the predominantly ‘dolce and cantabile affects’ characteristic of their two principal instruments, favouring a rich and warmly balanced sound over one of brightly separated colours. The bassoon, for instance, used sometimes on the bassline in the sonatas, is kept well under control, and indeed combines with gamba so well in the B minor Concerto that it almost sounds like a gently squeezed accordion. They are most effective in the Adagio that opens the B minor Concerto, mysterious, probing and pulsing.


Elsewhere, however, they are apt to let the music get a little sleepy, even to drag its feet occasionally, as in the Largo of the C major Concerto or the lumpy gigue of the F major Sonata. The opening Siciliana of the G minor Sonata, while hardly tragic material, should probably have at least some kind of sense of longing. Thus, for all the tonal and dynamic refinement of the playing here, as well as the unobtrusively subtle varying of a continuo section that also involves theorbo, cello, violone and harpsichord, we must hope for a greater spark of energy and excitement next time.



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