July/August 2009, "Fanfare" magazine, issue 32:6, USA
We seem to have arrived at a Telemann paradise. Rather
than continue to re-record the Telemann works that have
become well known, some companies have initiated
projects to record all of the works of a particular genre.
Brilliant has committed itself to issuing all of Telemannís
orchestral suites, and cpo is engaged in a project to record
all of the wind concertos.
Now comes Caro Mitis, which is beginning its own project to
record all of the orchestral suites. The two projects from
Brilliant and Caro Mitis offer the collector a clear choice.
Brilliantís Collegium Instrumental Brugense (CIB) performs on modern
instruments, while Caro Mitisís Pratum Integrum Orchestra
is recording the suites on period instruments.
Volume 1 of Pratum Integrumís set contains two suites
already issued by Brilliant; thus, we can immediately
compare the approach of the two ensembles. The three
suites on the current release, though all in minor mode,
display Telemannís ingenuity in varying the types of music
included in these ever-delightful scores. The Suite in D
Minor is a topsy-turvy affair: it begins with a discord; the
Ouverture is followed by a Rondeau, which is generally
found at the end of a suite; and it ends with an Entree. The
Suite in E Minor is in the form of a boutade, a sort of
abbreviated ballet, with an Ouverture followed by four
dance movements with such names as ďLes cyclops.Ē The
Suite in B Minor is of a more serious nature throughout.
Pratum Integrum has no permanent conductor; in its
concerts it either uses guest conductors or, as here, plays
without conductor. The musicians are highly skilled; despite
the absence of a conductor, ensemble is not a problem, even
in the fastest passages. In general, where there is a
difference between Pratum Integrum and CIB, Pratum
Integrum is better at bringing out the character of the various
movements, though CIB is very good as well. In the
Rejoissance of the Suite in D Minor (tr. 4), CIB is actually
better at conveying the colorful woodwind scoring. When
there is a noticeable difference in tempo, Pratum Integrum is
the faster of the two ensembles. Only once did Pratum
Integrum disappoint. In the final movement of the Suite in B
Minor, a Menuet, the solo passage for the bassoons is
assigned to the cellos, which simply donít sound right in the
Pratum Integrum has a clear advantage over CIB in the
matter of repeats. In the Suites in D Minor and E Minor, the
Ouverture is more than two minutes longer because of
inclusion of all repeats. On the other hand, the Caro Mitis
disc is very short on time. There is room on the disc for one
or two more suites; Brilliant provides more value with more
suites per disc and at a much lower price than Caro Mitis.
Caro Mitis scores in its detailed program notes on each suite
compared to Brilliantís generalized notes on various aspects
of the orchestral suites.
Those on a budget will be very happy with the series of discs
from Brilliant, which has so far produced three volumes
totaling eight discs. For those who prefer period instruments
in works of this period, the Caro Mitis series is
self-recommending. We can be grateful that we have a
choice between these two outstanding projects.