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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Telemann’s Garden
Lentement, from Fantasia No. 7 in A minor for harpsichord solo, TWV 33:19 [1:44]
Suite No. 5 in A minor for flute, violin & basso continuo, TWV 42:a3 [16:48]
Siciliana, from Fantasia No. 9 in B minor for solo violin, TWV 40:22 [2:08]
Paris Quartet No. 3 in G major, TWV 43:G4 [22:23]
Vivace - Allegro, from Fantasia No. 1 in A major for flute solo, TWV 40:2 [3:15]
Trio sonata No. 10 in A minor for violin, recorder & basso continuo (from Essercizii musici), TWV 42:a4 [10:39]
Recitative - Arioso, from Sonata No. 9 in E minor for viola da gamba & basso continuo (from Essercizii musici), TWV 41:e5 [1:48]
Elephant House Quartet
rec. 2018, Garnisonskirken, Copenhagen, Denmark PENTATONE PTC5186749 [58:56]
Telemann’s Garden, an album of chamber music gems, is described in the publicity material as ‘a stroll through the colourful oeuvre of Telemann’, who was a keen gardener, we are informed. Making its debut here for the Pentatone label, the Elephant House Quartet is a baroque ensemble founded in 2014.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest late-Baroque composers, Telemann wrote prolifically in most genres, and left a legacy of inventive works. I have mentioned in previous reviews just how drawn I am to Telemann’s chamber music. I can remember a time when new releases were quite a rare occurrence.
The programme performed here by the Elephant House Quartet includes three complete works: the Suite No. 5 in A minor, Paris Quartet No. 3 in G major and the Trio sonata No. 10 in A minor. Also included are extracts from four different fantasias, solo contributions by member of the ensemble. All but one of the works are drawn from five of Telemann’s collections published between the years 1726-1738 at Hamburg where he had settled; one work was published in 1738 during the composer’s stay in Paris. Although taken from a fairly narrow twelve-year period, these selections still serve as a splendid snapshot of the varied aspect and instrumental colour to be found in Telemann’s chamber works.
The Elephant House Quartet use period instruments or modern copies. One cannot fault the quality of the playing. It is exquisite, executed with style and eloquent lyricism. I love the way the passages are shaped with exemplary skill and control. One senses a close connection between the four players, who demonstrate a firm grip on the formal and artistic structure of the works with a sense of total engagement. Calm and meditative in the slow movements, buoyant in the faster movements – these are performances to cherish, with striking unity and intonation of the instruments that make a gorgeous sound. Allan Rasmussen’s harpsichord, a modern copy after Harrass (c. 1710), is one of the finest I have heard.
The sound quality is commendable, with clarity and good balance. A bouquet of chamber-music jewels, the booklet essay by Carsten Lang, is first-class. For those new to Telemann’s chamber music, I have been recommending a single album of Trios and Quartets with viola da gamba, quite marvellously performed by La RÍveuse on the Mirare label. This new release is also worthy of attention. Admirers of Telemann should be delighted with the results.
F-alto (trio sonata) and voice-flute in D, both in boxwood, by Frederick G. Morgan (1940–1999), after Peter Bressan (1663-1731).
Violin by Fabrizio di Pietroantonio (Firenze 2009, copy of a Stradivari) (plain gut strings for e, a, d, wound g string, all by Gamut). Bow: Italian model from the second decade of 18th century made by Gerhard Landwehr (2016).
Viola da Gamba
Seven-string bass viol by David Rubio, made in Cambridge in 1987 after G. Barbey, Paris. Gut strings and period bow.
Harpsichord by Joop Klinkhamer, Amsterdam 1992, after Harrass (c. 1710).
Bolette Roed (recorder), Aureliusz Goliński (violin), Reiko Ichise (viola da gamba), Allan Rasmussen (harpsichord)