|Founder: Len Mullenger||
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett
| Georg Philip TELEMANN
Solos and Trio Sonatas for Recorder
Sonatina in C minor for Recorder and Basso continuo
Sonata in C Major for Recorder and Basso continuo
Fantasia I in A Major for Solo Flute
Trio Sonata in A Minor for Recorder, Violin and Basso continuo
Trio Sonata in B-Flat Major for Recorder, obbligato Harpsichord and Basso continuo
Trio Sonata in F Major for Recorder, Viola da Gamba and Basso continuo
Sonatina in A Minor for Recorder and Basso continuo
Fantasia VIII in E Minor for Solo Flute
Trio Sonata in D Minor for Recorder, Violin and Basso continuo
Maurice Steger - Recorder
Naoki Kitaya - Harpsichord and Direction
Hanna Weinmeister - Violin
Rainer Zipperling - Cello and Viola da Gamba
Briahn Feehan - Theorbo
Käthi Gohl - Cello
Markus Märkl - Harpsichord
Recorded 5-9 June 2001, Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland
CLAVES CD 50-2112 [65.08]
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Telemann wrote a bewildering number of works in a wide variety of forms. His ability to write attractive music in the fashionable styles of the day ensured that he remained popular throughout his lifetime. Unfortunately that popularity does not seem to have carried through to today and recordings of his works rather lag behind those of his contemporaries. So this disc, which brings together a number of his works for Recorder and Flute played by the young Swiss virtuoso Maurice Steger, is very welcome. Telemann's Recorder music is in particular short supply in the catalogue so this disc is doubly welcome.
The music on the disc is in a variety of styles. The Sonatas are in the very traditional 4-movement sonata da chiesa form. Whereas the Fantasias for solo flute were the epitome of modernism at the time. During the 18th century the recorder became increasingly popular as a chamber music instrument amongst amateurs. So much of Telemann's music for recorder would have been written for this market. Most of the movements are quite short and the slower movements make good use of Telemann's enviable melodic gifts.
Maurice Steger has a fine technique: his passage work is executed in subtle style and his tuning is excellent. Though I did wonder whether he could not have exercised a little fantasy in the area of ornaments and appoggiaturas. The faster movements are quite short and are apt to end rather suddenly. Telemann does play with unexpected endings, but too often I found myself being brought up short by a too sudden ending. Surely it would have been more rewarding if Steger and his partners could have shaped these movements a little more.
The recording is an exceptionally close one and this leads to a number of faults which would not be so apparent in the concert hall, or on a recording that allowed the performer more space to breathe. A particular problem is that the close miking makes Steger's breathing extremely audible. Performance involves work, it is unreasonable to expect a recording to sound as if it was being played by an automaton. But the closeness of this recording means that Steger's breathing can become disturbing. In passage work, the notes are given to little time to register, sometimes reducing the more complex passages to a breathy percussive effect which seems vastly unfair to Steger. I am sure that if you heard him live the effect would be far more musical.
The Sonatinas are all 4 movement works with the traditional Fast, Slow, Fast Slow alternation. The Fantasias are remarkable, two movement works in which Telemann manages to suggest a remarkable variety of forms and textures with just the solo Flute line. Steger shows an admirably grasp of technique and form in these. But Telemann was experimenting as well in the more traditional works. The opening movement of the three movement Sonata has a striking tempo change (slow to fast). The third movement of the Trio Sonata in B flat is a charmingly graceful Siciliana. This Trio Sonata uses an obbligato harpsichord in addition to the basso continuo, showing Telemann undertaking the sort of experiment which would gradually lead to the classical duo Sonata. The Trio Sonatas vary between three movement and four movements as Telemann tries out newer structural techniques.
In the Trio Sonatas Steger is joined by variety of colleagues from the continuo group. All the musicians are admirable and they play the Trio Sonatas with the sort of relaxed music making that is ideal for this sort of chamber music written for private performance. The musicians form a homogenous group in which Steger is, rightly, the first amongst equals rather than a dominant soloist. Though, in the Trio Sonata in B-Flat, I wished that the obbligato harpsichord had been a little louder. Here, there was a danger of Steger dominating the proceedings when he and Naoki Kitaya (the obbligato harpsichord player) should have been equals.
The handsome booklet is admirable when dealing with the musicians (and their instruments) and there is an excellent background article. But nowhere do they print the TWV numbers of the works. With a catalogue as large as Telemannís it is always useful to have the catalogue numbers of the works for reference.
The musicians have put together an attractively varied programme mixing music for different combinations of instruments. None of the pieces on the record has a significantly large scale fugue, Telemann seems to consciously aim for melodious attractiveness. But repeated listening of the complete CD does rather make one long for something larger scale, with a little more depth. But this is a good record to dip into from time to time.
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