Conveniently gathered together here – apparently for the first time – are three works which Telemann did not consciously regard as a set or as connected with each other, as their different structures and scorings testify. The extensive concertino sections (or division of soloists) of the two compositions in F-major bring to mind Vivaldi’s Concertos for multiple instruments, and it is telling that Telemann’s manuscripts for these works survive in Dresden: its court orchestra’s leader, Johann Georg Pisendel, was the common factor, as he encouraged Telemann, and he had met and been influenced by the Italian composer.
Those two Concerto-Suites afford the soloists of Tempesta di Mare plenty of opportunity for colourful display, but they are sensitively deployed within the overall structure of each movement, so as not to unbalance the textures and musical logic. The solo oboe in the opening Vivace of TWV54 is demure, even shy, in what seems to be an amorous dialogue with the rest of the ensemble, which is repeated as the third movement, before launching into a succession of dances. Both Concertos also feature a pair of horns, and here they are warm-toned and mellow, rather than blaring, even in the fast-paced concluding ‘Gigue’ of the F-major work, where the hunting-call motifs remain supple and accurately played. The slightly wheezy bassoon of the ‘Loure’ lends it an appropriately rustic charm rather than courtly sophistication.
Sometimes more dynamic contrast could have been instilled between and within movements, but the strength of Tempesta di Mare’s interpretations lies in the ability to bring out rhythmic emphases. The ‘Allegrezza’ of TWV51 achieves that fairly easily with the accompaniment of timpani, but the furtive tread of the unusual ‘Corsicana’ is effectively realised under the Vivaldian pyrotechnics of Emlyn Ngai’s violin solo. The ‘Scherzo’ features a drone bass in between contrasting episodes with a now sweetly-voiced violin and a more acerbic oboe, whilst the violinist is put in the spotlight again in delectable character for the ‘Rondeau’ and ‘Polacca’.
Coming between these two larger-scale works is the brief Concerto di camera for recorder, two violins and continuo. The same subtlety and nuance of approach to the varied movements is in evidence, but enlivened by the nimble playing of Gwyn Roberts on recorder. These are, then, enthusiastic and persuasive accounts of music which makes no pretensions to profundity but wears its artful craftsmanship with joyous levity.