Advent Calendar Day 24 – Magnificat (Telemann)

We aren’t doing Chris’s lovely Magnificat tonight, so I thought I’d go looking for one, and when I ran across Telemann, who I know only as that guy who wrote baroque recorder concertos, I thought I’d give him a try.


I’ve never heard anything quite like this piece of music, to be honest.  I can’t decide what I think of it.  It’s like a human clockwork music box.  With illustrations from the Très Riches Heures Du Duc De Berry.  And I’m not even sure if I like it, but it’s strangely compelling and not as insipid as I thought it was and I have to keep listening to it.  I’m also not entirely sure what language it is in – I suspect (from external evidence) that it might be in German – this is, apparently, his German Magnificat – but I can’t pick out a single word of German, and the group singing it is the Japanese Ensemble Planeta, so I’m beginning to wonder if it is in fact in Japanese instead.  Surely not? I also strongly suspect they have arranged it themselves, as Telemann is usually rather more orchestral in a somewhat Handelian style – I think they have grabbed all the instrumental parts and given them to the other voices.

Edited December 2017: Having listened to this quite a few more times by now, I still can’t make out most of the lyrics, but there is definitely a ‘laudate signore’ at the start, which suggests Latin, but not very traditional Latin?  But I think attempting to discern the words is probably not the point of this exercise – best to just let the music wash over one…

I think I like the effect.  I know I like the images.  And it’s certainly something a bit different.  Also, I keep having to listen to it again, so maybe I do really like it after all… Enjoy!

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