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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 context.
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.
Ron Salemi


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