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Telemann, Georg Philipp: Don Quixote; La Lyra; Overture in D.

Telemann, Georg Philipp: Don Quixote; La Lyra; Overture in D (orchestral suites). Northern Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Ward from his position at the front of the violin section. Recorded in 1996, in Victoria Hall, Bolton, United Kingdom. Engineer: John Taylor. 57+ minutes. Naxos 8.5554019.

Anyone who has read more than a few of my recording reviews probably realizes that I consider Telemann a major composer, almost on a level with J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart. Indeed, his best music can hold its own with the best those gentlemen produced, and when he was alive he was considered by many to be J. S. Bach's musical peer.

Telemann's father was a Lutheran clergyman, and although he might have followed in father's footsteps, his musical talents were such that a short while after he entered Leipzig University in 1701 he founded the University Collegium Musicum--an organization that his friend J. S. Bach was to later direct. In 1703 (at 22 years of age) he became musical director of the Leipzig Opera, and while there composed some twenty operas himself. Four years older than Bach, Telemann outlived him seventeen years and by the time of his death Haydn was thirty-five and Mozart was eleven. His musical style developed with the times, from the late Baroque to the style galant exemplified by his godson, C.P.E. Bach.

The Quixote suite featured on this disc exemplifies the style of his later years, with light-hearted approach that depicts episodes in the knight's career. As performed by the 24-member Northern Chamber Orchestra, it is rich sounding, vibrant, and extremely well recorded. All of my listening was done on my middle system (with Dunlavy Cantatas handling main-channel duty), and I found the sound to be all anyone could ask for.

Right now, the center speaker is mounted too high up (on a hopefully soon to be replaced RPTV) to dovetail properly with the main systems when using the "Classical/Opera" mode available from that system's Yamaha DSP-A1. After this system's room is enlarged (widened by six feet) I hope to replace the set with something less intrusive, allowing for a more practical placement of the center-channel speaker. Fortunately, in the room as it now stands (with the front wall rather narrow), the close spacing of the Cantatas did not mandate a center speaker to get good off-axis soundstaging. The best sound overall with this program material was obtained with the DSP-AI's "Hall A in Europe" setting, although straight stereo reproduction was well above average.

The Overture and Lyra, scored for three oboes, bassoon, and strings, are smaller in scale, but they also work quite well with the "Hall A" simulation, mainly because the material was recorded in the same hall. This is instrumental music of a very high order and shows as well as anything why many individuals (including yours truly) consider Telemann to be one of the world's most accomplished composers. The recording does the material complete justice.
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Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:496
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