Friday, March 25, 2011

Georg Philipp Telemann - Orpheus - Jacobs, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin







It was a stroke of genius and a labor of love for Rene Jacobs to pore over thousands of yellow pages of old manuscrips in order to prove to the world that Telemann's Orpheus was not a pastiche of pieces from other works but an inventive interpolation of several musical styles (and even languages) in a single masterpiece. The result is this magnificent recording which you should not miss. I would say that this is the greatest Jacobs' achievement to date. His intelligent direction does the greatest justice to Telemann's ingenious musical characterization of the protagonists' actions and moods. Each language, for example, is associated with a particular mood (the opera is sungGerman stamp interchangeably in Italian, German and French). Musical instruments ably depict nature (e.g. the singing of birds) and drama of the unfolding events (e.g. dissonances accompanying Eurydice's death, or the lovely tune portending Orpheus's entry into Pluto's kingdom). The opera even has a couple of comical interludes, very tastefully performed here. Notably, despite the fact that this opera dates from 1728, the main role is given to a baryton, instead of a castrato or haute-contre as was the norm during the period. To me, this highlighted the psychological realism of Telemann's Orpheus. The cast of soloists here is very distinguished. Roman Trekel makes a marvelous Orpheus. His best aria is "Ach, Tod, ach susser Tod!" which he sings with perfect legato and controlled emotion. Dorothea Roschmann as Orasia is one of Jacobs' greatest talent discoveries. Her aria "C'est ma plus chere envie" is worthy to stand alongside the most celebrated soprano arias in the known repertory. Ruth Ziesak, Werner Gura, Hanno Muller-Brachmann, Maria Cristina Kiehr and Isabelle Poulenard make smaller, but nevertheless wonderful contributions.
This recording of Orpheus is absolutely beyond reproach.

Orpheus, oder die wunderbare Beständigkeit der Liebe, opera in 3 acts, TWV 21:18
Composed by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performed by Berlin Academy for Early Music
with Maria Cristina Kiehr, Roman Trekel, Isabelle Poulenard, Axel Kohler, Hanno Muller-Brachmann, Dorothea Roschmann, Werner Gura, Ruth Ziesak
Conducted by Rene Jacobs 


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