The Baroque-period orchestral suite developed along parallel lines in several countries. Its principal origins lie in France. The first great figure in its history was Jean-Baptiste Lully, who developed the one movement overture (a name derived from the French verb ouvrir, to open) to introduce performances of other, longer works such as operas and ballets. The combination of the overture and further instrumental pieces extracted from the larger work, mainly dances, made up another form, the suite (from the verb suivre, to follow).
Latterly, Telemann has become something of a victim of his own fecundity. And yet to be defeated by his daunting works list is a great pity, because at his best he's a rival to Bach. These three orchestral suites find him in ebullient mood (he was a great colourist--just listen to the way he writes for three oboes in the C major and B flat Suites) and there's a heady mix of grandeur (the opening of the D major Suite, with its hunting horns bringing to the elegance of the court a whiff of the countryside), ebullience (the closing Gigues of the C and D major Suites, the "Combattans" in the B flat) and elegant introspection (the "Sommeille" from the C major Suite). Then there are the complete surprises which Telemann reveals with all the aplomb of a master conjurer, such as the foot-tapping "Ecossoise" in the D major Suite. And all this baroque brilliance is brought alive by the crack ensemble of Trevor Pinnock's English Concert, complemented by a top-notch recording. --Harriet Smith 2b1af7f3a8