Containing six sonatas, four from Der Getreue Musikmeister and two from Essercizi Musici, this CD includes Telemann’s most popular Sonata in F major and the virtuosic Sonata in C major. Michala Petri and Anthony Newman are an astonishingly accomplished and unparalleled duo whose directness and sense of oneness with the music translate lucidly. Having performed together in concert many times, it is surprising that this is their first joint recording. As such this is the much awaited release of the ‘High Priest of the Harpsichord’ and ‘First Lady of the Recorder’.
Telemann stated that he ‘always aimed at fidelity’ because ‘music ought not to be an effort’. Similarly, Petri and Newman interpret each piece with naturalness and ease. This is a work of the finest musicianship and collaboration which manifests itself in impeccable phrasing and a concordance of thematic ideas. Throughout each piece there is a sincerity and exacting disciple. Here are perfectionists at work and though not gaudily polished each piece is carefully executed. The sound quality is excellent and retains the character and voice of the recorder and harpsichord which complement each other so well.
The Triste from the Sonata in F minor demonstrates Petri’s ability to wrench the recorder out of its staid tradition of being purely pastoral. This interpretation and impassioned performance alerts the listener to the melodious capabilities and depth of the recorder. No longer solely sweet, clear and pretty, the sound of the slow movements is timeless and penetrating.
The Sonata in C major is a flowery dalliance. Reflecting light at every turn, this piece glistens with charm and style galante. In a selection of letters dating from 1742, Telemann asks for flowers as he says he is: ‘insatiable where hyacinths and tulips are concerned, greedy for ranunculi, and especially for anemones’. A bouquet of direct melodic charm, rhythmic clarity and economy of scale, Telemann exudes beauty and finesse. Here, Petri blends focus and intensity (Larghetto) with speedy gestures.
As a hoarder of styles from France and Italy, Telemann’s assimilation of various forms is combined with the ability to mould them into something different such as a Germanic Grave in the Sonata in C major. These qualities render these compositions free from the shackles of tradition. This CD of works by an innovative composer contains the most expertly crafted and attentively scored music with a frantic spark of imagination running through each piece. His associated range and sense of possibility would have an influence on J. S. Bach, who would then overshadow Telemann with his knotty contrapuntal scores. This CD firmly reinstates Telemann as not only a composer who was famed for his ability to ‘write a motet for eight voices more quickly than one could write a letter’, as Handel quipped, but as a composer who can voice agitation (Sonata in D minor) and delight (Sonata in B flat major). Accordingly, Petri’s modulations from breathy exhales to crisp trills and Newman’s ability to dart and dwell in the music, express the full range of Telemann’s emotions.