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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767): III Trietti metodichi e III Scherzi

Parnassi Musici

rec: February 25, 27 & 28, 2006, Baden-Baden, Südwestrundfunk, Hans-Rosbaud-Studio
CPO - 777 301-2 (© 2008) (63'21")

Quartet for transverse flute, violin, bassoon and bc in d minor (TWV 43,d3); Quartet for 2 violins, 2 bassoons and bc in a minor (TWV 43,a1); Scherzo 1 in A (TWV 42,A1); Scherzo 2 in E (TWV 42,E1); Scherzo 3 in D (TWV 42,D3); Trietto 1 in G (TWV 42,G2); Trietto 2 in D (TWV 42,D2); Trietto 3 in d minor (TWV 42,d1)

Takashi Ogawa, transverse flute; Margaret Duffy, Matthias Fischer, violin; Stephan Schrader, cello; Sergio Azzolini, Ai Ikeda, bassoon; Diego Cantalupi, archlute; Martin Lutz, harpsichord

Apparently Telemann's music enjoys a growing popularity among ensembles of baroque music as discs devoted to his music appear with great regularity. That is understandable: the more one listens to his music the more one is surprised by the versatility of his oeuvre and his inexhaustible imagination. His output is huge but he never seems to repeat himself. The six trios which are the core of this disc impressively testify that.

The very title of this collection, III Trietti metodiche e III Scherzi, printed in 1731, is remarkable. Trietti is the diminutive of trio, so Telemann presents them as 'little trios'. It isn't just the trietti which are written in the form of trio sonatas, it's the Scherzi as well. And this title has to be taken litterally: Telemann liked musical jokes, and these Scherzi are examples of that. The word metodiche also asks for an explanation. The word Methode (method) was often used for material meant to instruct players or composers. In this case it was the art of ornamentation which was the subject of the Trietti metodichi, just like the Sonate metodiche which Telemann had published some years earlier. To that end he added ornamented versions of the slow movements.

This aspect shows that these sonatas were first and foremost written for the growing market of amateur musicians, who longed for not too difficult, but still first-rate music. The scoring reflects this: although these sonatas were conceived for two violins and bc, the upper parts could also be played on two transverse flutes. The flute was quickly becoming the most fashionable instrument, in particular among amateurs. In his liner notes Karl Böhmer underlines the importance of a performance with two instruments of the same kind. "In many movements, Telemann is so demonstratively striving for tonal melding - through stretto and parallel thirds and sixths - that any tonal dissimilitude between the voices would be to the detriment of the music". Therefore all trios are played here with two violins.

The transverse flute is played here in the two quartets. The Quartet in a minor is one of the so-called Paris Quartets and performed on this disc with two transverse flutes and two bassoons with additional basso continuo. The Quartet in d minor has been attributed to Handel - called Concerto a quattro -, but in another source it is attributed to Telemann. Up until now it has not been possible to decide who the composer was. Karl Böhmer suggests it could have been a 'co-production' of both, as they were good friends and exchanged musical ideas.

The trios show great variety in styles and musical ideas. The first movement of the Trietto 1, for instance, is a fugue, whereas the last movement is much more light-hearted. The Trietto 2 is a kind of tribute to Corelli, and that is very suitable as Corelli was the father of the trio sonata. Telemann even wrote a series of Sonates Corellisantes in his honour. The Trietto 3 begins with a movement in which the theme has been given a chromatic counterpoint and which contains a number of strongly contrasting rhythms. The Scherzo 1 is written in the style of Polish folk music, as Telemann did in several Concertos polonois. The second movement is a polonaise. A musical joke is the first movement of the Scherzo 2: the principal theme modulates a number of times before returning to the original key. It is certainly something none of his customers would expect.

The ensemble Parnassi musici makes the most of this repertoire. They play with zest and imagination. The many twists and turns in these sonatas are fully explored. Whether they have made any use of the examples of ornamentation Telemann has given in his publication isn't told. Of course they don't need them, but it would certainly be interesting to hear the kind of ornamentation Telemann has proposed. The quartets are also well played, in a somewhat different scoring than usual. In the Quartet in d minor the cello part is played on the bassoon, which is a legitimate choice, but it seems to me the balance between the instruments is suffering a bit from it. In particular in the last movement the transverse flute is sometimes a little overshadowed by violin and bassoon.

I would like to strongly recommend this disc. Not only does it once again show how good a composer Telemann has been, it is just very enjoyable and entertaining music. Recording and booklet don't give any reasons to complain, so nothing should stop you from purchasing this disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2009)

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