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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
20 Fuguettes pour l’orgue ou pour le clavessin (1731)
Fuguette no.14, TWV 30:14 [3:24]
Nouveaux Quatuors Parisiens (1738)
Quatuor no. 4, TWV 43:h2 [20:43]
Quatrième livre de Quatuors (1752)
Sonate II en Fa majeur, TWV 43:F1 [9:07]
Quatuors Parisiens (1730)
Concerto I en sol majeur, TWV 43:G1 [10:47]
Nouveaux Quatuors Parisiens (1738)
Quatuor no.6 en mi mineur, TWV 43:e4 [20:05]
Ensemble Nevermind (Anna Besson (flute), Louis Creac’h (violin), Robin Pharo (viola da gamba), Jean Rondeau (harpsichord))
rec. 2017, MC2 Grenoble, France
ALPHA CLASSICS 299 [64:08]

Ensemble Nevermind made a good impression via the Alpha Classics label with their Conversations album, and this Telemann programme also surpasses expectations for range and sheer variety of musical content, showing how canny 18th century masters were in making the most out of small chamber ensembles.

Telemann’s influence as a composer spread throughout Europe in the first half of the 18th century in no small part due to distribution of his chamber music from his own publishing house. This quality of this work reached the attention of flautist and composer Michael Blavet, and an invitation went out to Germany for Telemann to join in the salons and Concerts Spirituel that represented the height of musical fashion in the French capital at the time.

The quartet format heard in this stylish recording might well have been cooked up between Blavet and Telemann, but whatever its origins the combination of flute, violin, viola da gamba or cello and harpsichord ticks all the boxes for contrast of timbre and flexibility when it comes to applying pretty much any compositional technique of the period. Concerto movements can be found, as in the Prélude to the Quatuor no. 4, variations appear in Quatuor no. 6, which opens with a French overture, and dance forms of various kinds that are disguised under French expression markings such as Coulant or tempo indications such as Vite.

Pieces intended for the consumption of elite concertgoers might be expected to be somewhat superficial, and while there is goodly entertainment to be had throughout, there are plenty of movements and passages which affect the emotions more strikingly that you might have anticipated. The solemn ecclesiastical origins of the Fuguette that opens this programme makes it a case in point, and while all too brief the fourth movement Largo from the Concerto No. 1 can compete with Telemann’s contemporary, J.S. Bach. Contrast is all, and hardly anything here lingers beyond a five minute duration. More substantial movements, such as the Prélude to Quatuor No. 6, have their contrasting sections, with improvisatory playing adding spice to slower tempi, and little rhythmic tricks adding spice to the faster sections, played with improvisatory flair by Nevermind’s expert musicians.

Recorded closely but with an excellent refinement of balance that blends the harpsichord with the other instruments, this is a production for long-term delight. The Sonate in F major TWV 43:F1 may be a world premiere recording, the present version being one adapted from an original scored for four strings and continuo. Documentation about the instruments played is included in the booklet, and all sound very nice indeed, the transverse flute played with sweet nuance by Anna Besson, who interestingly swaps for a piccolo in the Vite of Quatuor No. 4. For Telemann fans and those intrigued by what happens when German baroque meets French fashion, this is a must.

Dominy Clements



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