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Georg Philip TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Complete Sonatas and Sonatinas for Recorder and bass continuo TWV 41
Sonatas in C-[C3 [; in C minor [c2]; Sonatina d minor [d4]; Sonata in F minor [f1];
Sonatina in A minor [a4]; Sonata [Duetto B3]; Sonata in F major [F2];
Sonata in F minor [f2]
Michael Schneider – recorder; Annette Schneider - violoncello; Christian Beuse - bassoon; Yasunori Imamura - lute; Sabine Bauer - keyboard
Recorded at Deutschland Radio. Berlin October 2003
CAPRICCIO 67 070 [71.51]

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As Michael Schneider’s own booklet notes say right at the start: where would recorder players be without these ingenious sonatas. I still say that Telemann is a composer who can be as interesting as any baroque composer including Bach and Handel. It’s truly an excellent and a rare idea to programme these sonatas together. What intriguing bed-fellows they make, especially in these delightfully thought-out and musical performances.

The aforementioned notes list the sonatas, their antecedents, published history and format. I will briefly explain further.

There are nine works here. Those from the Esercizii musici, that is those listed as C5, and d4 are from a general collection of sonatas for various wind instruments. The sonatas C2, fI and B3 are from ‘Der Getreue Musikmeister’ and are from what Schneider describes as a theoretical work, a set of lessons "published every two weeks’…. Each contains a colourful collection of vocal and instrumental compositions by various composers which perfectly fit the chamber music needs and tastes of the growing bourgeois class". In other words these are pieces which good amateurs could play and which were, as Telemann remarked, "written for their especial pleasure". The A major Sonata [B3] is a four movement work and each movement is in canon; clever, unusual but not unique in baroque music.

The Sonatinas in C minor c2 and in A minor a4 are indeed curiously named as they are quite substantial works, unusually, in four movements. These were discovered a few years ago by Nikolaus Delius amongst some supposedly anonymous Manuscripts in the Saxon State Library. They are in the ‘style galante' and the C minor Sonatina has a jolly Polonaise in Eb.

That leaves the four movement F minor Sonata TWV 41 f2 which ends the CD; an especially fine piece this, especially its opening Adagio.

Incidentally I should add that all of the slow movements are a joy. I often felt myself quite disappointed when their all too brief existence ran out. Another highlight for me is the Vivaldi-like finale of the C major sonata C2.

Some collectors may be surprised to find that the bassoon plays a significant part in this recording. Schneider implies that this was partially an accident: I quote "Telemann specifies the recorder and the bassoon as alternative instruments in several works ... the treble recorder and the baroque bassoon are comparable in terms of fingering and compass". In addition the musicians noticed that ... "Whilst preparing our performances, we could not help noticing that the bass lines of the sonatas ... often bear an extraordinary likeness to woodwind writing. Experiments with a bassoon carrying the bass line in rehearsals seemed to produce a very idiomatic sounding result, so that we decided to use the instrument for the recording". Their efforts anyway were made easier by the beautifully mellow tone and blend of Christian Beuse’s playing on what the booklet simply calls a ‘Barockfagott’ and, in addition, the lute continuo work of Yasunori Imamura. The cello used is a velvet-throated English instrument of c.1800. Again the playing of Annette Schneider is appropriately understated and elegant.

For me listening to this CD has been a gently civilizing and life-enhancing pleasure; a disc which I would strongly advise you to search out.

Gary Higginson

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