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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767): XII Solos à violon ou traversiere avec la basse chiffrée

Münchner Cammer-Music

rec: Nov 8 -12, 2004, Köln-Delbrück, Pauluskirche
NCA - 60145-314 (© 2006) (2 CDs) (2.03'18")

Solo I in F (TWV 41,F3)b; Solo II in e minor (TWV 41,e4)a; Solo III in A (TWV 41,A5)b; Solo IV in C (TWV 41,C4)a; Solo V in g minor (TWV 41,g7)b; Solo VI in D (TWV 41,D8)a; Solo VII in d minor (TWV 41,d3)b; Solo VIII in G (TWV 41,G8)a; Solo IX in b minor (TWV 41,h5)b; Solo X in E (TWV 41,E6)a; Solo XI in a minor (TWV 41,a5)b; Solo XII in f sharp minor (TWV 41,fis1)a

Michael Schmidt-Casdorff, transverse flutea; Mary Utiger, violinb; Hartwig Groth, viola da gamba; Joachim Held, lute, theorbo; Christine Schornsheim, harpsichord

The first half of the 18th century saw a radical change in the music market. Previously music was mainly written for the aristocracy, but after the turn of the century non-aristocratic members of society which had grown in comfort were requiring music to play for entertainment. As a result composers started to write music for both Kenner - professional players - and Liebhaber - musical amateurs. Telemann was one of the most avid composers of such music: several collections were written for this growing market, like the Harmonischer Gottesdienst (1726), the Methodische Sonaten, Der getreue Music-Meister (both 1728) and the Musique de Table (1733). The fact that the same music was written for both categories shows that there was no difference between them in regard to technical skills. From these collections one may conclude that the 'dilettantes' were very capable players of their instruments.

The XII Solos à violon ou traversiere avec la basse chiffrée are another example of this kind of music. They were printed in 1734 and dedicated to three members of the Hamburg bourgeoisie. They are a confirmation of the technical level of playing of the musical dilettantes, as they are anything but easy; some movements are even quite virtuosic. The choice of instrument to play the upper part is left to the performer. There is no indication in the sonatas as to which instrument the performer should choose, as Telemann avoids anything which would make them unsuitable for either the violin or the transverse flute. The performers on this disc have taken a very practical solution: they are played on both instruments in turns, the first on the violin, the second on the transverse flute and so on.

What makes these sonatas so remarkable and interesting for a modern listener, is that they are a kind of catalogue of all the compositional means composers of the baroque - especially the German baroque - had at their disposal to express human emotions. They are full of rhetorical figures and display a wide variety of affetti.

In addition there are some movements with a pastoral character and some contain influences of folk music. As far as style is concerned, there is a lot of variety as well: some movements are written in galant style, others are much more polyphonic in character. The relationship between the upper part and the bass also varies: sometimes the upper voice is simply supported by the bass part, elsewhere a dialogue develops in which both parts participate on equal terms.
All these aspects result in a collection of sonatas of great contrast, not only between one sonata and the other, but also between individual movements of a single sonata.

All these features make these twelve 'Solos' enthralling and highly enjoyable to listen to. That is also due to the interpreters who show a thorough understanding of the essence of German baroque music, especially its rhetorical character. They are fully aware of the rhetorical figures Telemann uses and by paying attention to them the affetti come out very strongly. The interpretation is based on the concept on music as speech (Klang-Rede), which is reflected in phrasing, articulation, use of dynamics, the differentiated treatment of notes, tempo fluctuations etc. In short, this is how (German) baroque music should be played.
In addition Karsten Erik Ose has written very informative programme notes. He even provides notes on every single sonata, which gives a good insight into the composer's creativity.

Johan van Veen (© 2009)

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