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Musikproduction Dabringhaus und Grimm



Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concertos and Chamber Music, Vol. 5

Concerto in A major TWV 43:A4 [9:00]
Sonata in D minor TWV 42:d10 [9:12]
Ouverture in G minor TWV 55:g8 [20:34]
Quadro in G major TWV 43:G6 [7:25]
Sonata in C major TWV 40:203 [8:22]
Partia 5 in E minor TWV 41:e1 [10:23]
Musica Alta Ripa: Danya Segal (recorder); Hans-Peter Westermann (oboe); Anne Röhrig, Ursual Bundies, Susanne Dietz (violin); Christoph Heidemann (violin, viola); Juris Teichmanis, Albert Brüggen (cello); Barbara Hofmann (violone); Dennis Götte (chitarrone); Bernward Lohr (harpsichord)
rec. 28 January, 7-10 September, 2006, Schloss Nordkirchen, Germany


Does Telemann ever disappoint? Very rarely, in my experience. He doesn’t, of course, make more than an occasional and relatively distant approach to the profundity and sublimity of Bach; one will inspect his work largely in vain if one seeks music that has the passion and panache of Scarlatti; he rarely has the sheer rhythmic drive of Vivaldi – to compare him with just three near contemporaries. But Telemann’s music has, behind a considerable variety of style, an all-pervading sense of common humanity, especially a sense of what one might call social humanity. In him the conversation of instruments seems to express the dynamics of social intercourse with a particular intimacy and forcefulness. Telemann’s music is subtle and elegant in its oblique expression of how human beings behave towards one another at those times when society ‘works’. His is not the music of the heroic individual or, indeed, of profound innerness or spirituality, but rather of dialogue, of social relations. He is a musical poet of complementarity rather than conflict. For the most part, his music is melodic and its rhythms are largely symmetrical. He tends to avoid excess or exaggerated rhetoric; there is a consistent sense in his music of instruments behaving towards one another with the kind of consideration desirable in a harmonious social group.

Many of these virtues are evident in the attractive music collected on this present disc. It is part of an ongoing series – this is volume five; unfortunately I have heard only fragments of the previous four volumes. The present selection is delightfully various – anybody who thinks, as some appear to, of Telemann as a merely repetitive composer (a suspicion always felt about artists as prolific as he was) need only listen to the six compositions here in order to be disabused of that assumption. The four-movement Concerto in A major, which opens the programme, is scored for two violins, viola and continuo. It is full of playful metamorphoses of its basic material; the brief third movement, marked grave, is surely something of which any contemporary Italian composer would have been proud; its closing allegro is a witty study in imitative patterns and has a genuine rhythmic drive. The four movements of the trio sonata in D minor are a perfect example of the dialogic quality of Telemann’s music, the conversational exchanges between recorder and violin (this is a piece for recorder, violin and continuo) are sometimes subtle, sometimes more direct – just as spoken conversations are! The seductive dance rhythms of the closing presto presto make the conversation decidedly flirtatious.

The Ouverture in G minor is, by some distance, the longest piece included in the present selection. It is scored for two solo violins, two ripieno violins, and continuo. It is a very good-humoured piece, the essence of sociability, as the music repeatedly switches between solo and tutti. Its seven movements include a rondeau, a passepied, a sarabande, a passacaglia and a minuet and the whole invokes and celebrates the stylised social harmony of the dance. This is a lovely piece, albeit one of no great profundity, which is full of engaging interplay between soloists and ensemble, not least in the witty fifth movement, ‘Eccho vistement’.

The so-called Quadro of TWV 43:G6 – essentially a concerto – is a graceful, unforced composition, for recorder, oboe, violin and continuo. Its three movements (allegro-grave-allegro) are altogether unpretentious and intimate three way conversations - four if one counts the continuo, whose contribution is essential, after all. I have referred to three way conversations but, in fact, the two woodwinds only rarely become independent voices. The central slow movement is melancholic, even elegiac, though the emotion expressed never goes beyond the socially acceptable, as it were. Telemann’s astute ear for the differentiations of instrumental colour is very delightfully evident in the closing allegro.

The Sonata in C major, for four violins without continuo, is a fascinating and delightful exercise in imitation and echo, modulation and metamorphosis; this is ‘conversation’ of a particularly sophisticated kind, as the four violins play in constantly changing groupings and combinations; for all the use of canon and fugue this never sounds like an academic exercise. There is too much vivacity for that, too much dialogic give and take. A minor masterpiece, rarely heard, it is not hard to fancy that in listening to it one is hearing a transitional point in the movement from consort of viols to string quartet.

Musica Alta Ripa close the present programme with one of the works included in Telemann’s 1716 publication Kleine Cammer-Music, bestehend aus VI Partiten. There is less sense of ‘conversation’ here, in a piece written for recorder and continuo. Even when writing for a ‘featured’ soloist, Telemann largely resists the temptation of virtuoso display. The Partia (or Partita) is made up of and opening andante followed by six arias, all essentially binary in construction. The initial andante is pleasantly peaceful and all of the succeeding arias – which vary in length from under forty-five seconds to almost three minutes – have something of interest to offer. I have, though, to say that I find Telemann writing for a single soloist less interesting – at least in this case – than Telemann writing for two or more soloists. Telemann is less a monologist than a writer of dialogue; his music seems to come more fully alive when instruments exchange ideas, when each comments on what the other has just said – in applause or mockery, in the flattery of imitation or the irony of mild parody.

Alta Musica Ripa clearly have a thorough understanding of Telemann’s music; they are entirely at home in this repertoire; without any inappropriate flashiness or egotistical self-assertion they put themselves wholly at the service of this highly sociable music. They sound, indeed, precisely the kind of ‘harmonious’ social group of which Telemann’s music seems so often to both speak and embody. The recorded sound is exemplary, clear but intimate, not overly assertive or insistent.

Glyn Pursglove


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