- St. Mark Passion (1755), for chorus, 2 flutes, oboe, strings & continuo, TWV 5:40
Georg Philipp Telemann, he of the prolific pen, composed no fewer than 46 passion settings, of which 12 involved the Passion According to St. Mark. Obviously they weren't one-of-a-kind works like Bach's Passion settings, and not all of them have survived. This "Markus-Passion" of 1755 shows the chief virtue of Telemann's music, for us as well as for the HR people of his own time who kept thinking he was superior to Bach: he managed to keep on the cutting edge for a good long time. Telemann's light, proto-Classical language of the 1750s matches the intentions of the unknown poet who provided him with this text here: after an opening chorale, we hear Jesus cheerily exhorting a crowd to "sing with me a joyful Alleluia in God's honor." (One word of warning on this basically specialist release: the texts and liner notes are exclusively in German.) The other arias have nowhere near the killer mixture of faith and operatic drama that Bach brought to the central texts of Christianity, but Telemann is inventive in damping down his galant musical language to the requirements of the situation. This recording by a local choir from the Magdeburg area, with musicians from an area symphony playing on period instruments, shows the level of musicality common to amateur choirs all over Germany. Unfortunately the sound is on the boxy side, swallowing up the efforts of a group of enthusiastic German soloists. This is not necessarily a disc that the average listener, even one who enjoys Telemann, must absolutely rush out and buy, but a library frequented by a specialist in the eighteenth century ought to have it; the work has never been recorded before.