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Jacques-Martin HOTTETERRE (1674-1763)
Prelude pour la flûte à bec, modulè simplement:
Tendrement sans lenteur [0:52]
George Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Suite in A minor for recorder, strings and continuo, TWV 55:A2 [26:48]*
Concerto in C Major for recorder, strings and continuo, TWV 51:C1 [15:35]
Sonata in F Major for two chalumeaux, violin and continuo, TWV 43:F2 [12:58]
‘Concerto Di Camera’ in G Minor for recorder, two violins and continuo, TWV 43:G3 [17:56]
Giovanni Antonini (recorder and tenor chalumeau); Tindaro Capuano (alto chalumeau); Enrico Onofri (violin)*
Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
rec. 8-10 February 2012, 11-14 March 2013, Sacresta Monumentale Della Chiesa di S. Marco, Milan
180g vinyl, 33 rpm
ALPHA 254 [2 LPs: 74:09]

This new release (also available on CD) is timed to mark the 250th anniversary of the death of Georg Philipp Telemann in 1767. He was a composer both prolific and popular during his lifetime, and his entrepreneurial skills greatly helped advance his career. He acted as his own publisher, was astute with money and all the time kept pace with prevailing trends and fashions. His music incorporates several nationalities – French, Italian and even Polish, and it bridges the late Baroque and early Classical styles. Considered the most important German composer of his day, he eventually fell under the shadow of his contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach.

Of all the influences, the French style had the most dramatic impact on his music and, as a nod to this tradition, the recording begins with a brief prelude by Jacques-Martin Hotteterre. Its key of A minor eases the listener comfortably into the Suite in A minor, probably Telemann’s most popular work. Written with the flute in mind, it is frequently taken up by recorder players. Its seven movement span makes it the most substantial work here. A French-style Ouverture precedes six sprightly dances, their names, such as Air à l'Italien and Polonaise giving some indication of the composer’s cosmopolitanism. Les Plaisirs and Réjouissance, particularly, offer some deft instrumental scoring and breathtaking virtuosity.

The chalumeau is a single-reed woodwind instrument, prevalent at the time, and a predecessor of the clarinet. The Sonata In F Major features two of them, the alto played by Tindaro Capuano and the tenor by Giovanni Antonini. It has a unique sound, offering a more mellow timbre, and makes for a pleasing contrast. The Allegro second movement is delightful for its gaiety and abandon, and the interweaving and blending of the two chalumeaux is particularly alluring. The finale is energetic and rhythmically buoyant, the players relishing the music’s good humour and affability.

The Italian period-instrument orchestra Il Giardino Armonico were formed in 1985 by Giovanni Antonini who performs a dual role as conductor and recorder soloist. Their focus is 17th and 18th century repertoire, with their size, between 3 to 35 musicians, tailored to the music they are playing. Stylish, exciting and lively are the qualities which I hear in these captivating performances. The players are well-rehearsed and ensemble is flawless, with attention to detail regarding colour, phrasing, and dynamics a winning factor. Antonini is an inspirational conductor and displays flair and imagination, instilling fire and passionate intensity into these potent readings.

Recording quality is superb, with the LP sound offering realistic depth and perspective. My two LPs are noiseless, with totally silent surfaces and have no pre-echo at the beginning of tracks, thus indicating superior pressings. Middle frequencies are well-defined as are both the upper and lower ends.

Stephen Greenbank



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