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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Violin Sonatas
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in G, TWV 41:G1 [9:55]
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in d minor, TWV 41:d5* [6:46]
Fantasia for Violin Solo in b minor, TWV 40:22 [6:29]
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in g minor, TWV 41:g1 [6:59]
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in d minor, TWV 41:d6* [6:55]
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in A, TWV 41:A1 [11:36]
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in e minor, TWV 41:e8* [7:18]
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in G, TWV 41:G10* [7:31]
Arsenale Sonoro [Boris Begelman (violin), Ludovico Minasi (cello), Alexandra Koreneva (harpsichord)]
rec. Lonigo, Italy, 3-5 July 2014. DDD
* world premiere recordings
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88875061582 [64:02]

Perhaps put off by the Parapluies de Cherbourg-style cover, I started with low expectations.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

If you thought that baroque chamber music was all neat and proper, try listening to track 4, the allegro finale of TWV41:G1 and you’ll find the sort of energy more normally associated with Haydn’s Sturm und Drang period symphonies.  If you know the super-fast finales of some of Telemann’s concertos, however, such as that in e minor for recorder, flute, strings and continuo, TWV52:e11, you won’t be surprised.  You may, however, marvel at the energy which Arsenale Sonoro display here and elsewhere – all guns blazing, if that’s not too bad a pun on their name.

If that means a slight lack of compensatory relaxation in the slow movements, that’s the price which I’m willing to pay for these vigorous performances.  I don’t recall hearing any of the performers before but I look forward to making their acquaintance again.

One of the more imaginative inventions of the late Oliver Postgate, in the recently revived children’s TV programme The Clangers, was a Music Tree.  When the wind blew the notes tinkled, like an Ćolian harp.  It’s as if Telemann has filled these sonatas with an arboretum of music trees but the performers, like a gale, have scattered the notes from the trees like Milton’s ‘Autumnal Leaves that strow the Brooks / In Vallombrosa’.  Milton’s leaves, however, were intended to echo the utter destruction of Satan and his minions: these leaves are still flying exhilaratingly through the air.

If you know the Corelli sonatas you will find Telemann’s debt to the Italian apparent throughout.  With the exception of the solo violin sonata TWV40:22, these are Corelli-style sonate da chiesa, slow-fast-slow-fast, but the music is not without an individual touch, derived in part from the folk music of North Germany and Poland.  It may not be widely performed or recorded – there is only one other version of some of these sonatas, and that download only, from Music and Arts – but I certainly advise against letting that put you off.  Four of the sonatas are, in fact, receiving their first ever recordings and that in itself is a strong reason to recommend the CD.  The vigorous performances add to that recommendation.

The recording is up-front and close to match the performances.  The cello is balanced forward – a little too prominent at times but not troublesome – and the harpsichord a little backward.

With half of these sonatas receiving their world premiere recordings, there is no direct rival.  Even where there are alternatives, the new recording is hard to beat if you like your Telemann up-front and vigorous.  If I have small reservations they are no detriment to my recommending the album overall.   If you wish to try these performances first, subscribers to Qobuz can stream and others sample, with booklet, but you are unlikely to save much by downloading.

1 Try Reinhard Goebel with Musica Antiqua Köln for a suitably hectic reading (DG Archiv 4767253) available as a download or as a specially-licensed CD from prestoclassical.co.uk.  Sample or stream from Qobuz.  Not quite as fast, but still invigorating, Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage on Chandos CHAN0661 – CD or download from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

Brian Wilson

 




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