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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767): "Wind Band Music for Hautboisten"

les hautboïstes de prusse
Dir: Georg Corall

rec: Nov 27 - 30, 2017, Embsen (D), Katharinenkirche
Talanton - TAL 90012 (© 2018) (64'33")
Liner-notes: E/D
Cover & track-list

Concerto à 5 for two oboi d'amore, two horns and bassoon in D (TWV 44,2); Overture for two horns, two oboes, bassoon, strings and bc in F (TWV 55,F3), arr for two horns, two oboes and bassoon; Overture for two oboes, two horns and bassoon in F 'La Chasse' (TWV 44,10); Overture for two oboes, strings and bc in c minor (TWV 55,c2), arr for two oboes, taille and bassoon (ouverture; air. vivement; fugue. vivement; gigue); Overture for strings and bc in c minor (TWV 55,c1), arr for two oboes, taille and bassoon (courante; gavotte; loure; menuet I/II/III)

Georg Corall, Eva Grießhaber, oboe, oboe d'amore; Britta Hinrichs, taille de hautbois; Nikolaus M. Broda, bassoon; Stephan Katte, Fabio Forgiarini, horn

In the course of history, wind instruments have played a major role in music life in large parts of Europe. Often they were associated with the military and connected to royal and aristocratic courts. However, they also played an important role in towns: the city waits in England and the Stadtpfeifer in Germany. Although the members of the latter played wind instruments, they were also expected to master other instruments, such as strings. The present disc focuses on a specific kind of ensemble, known as the Hautboisten. That name is derived from the French word for oboe, hautbois. This is no coincidence: the oboe was born in France, and Louis XIV employed a group of twelve oboists, called Les Douze Grands Hautbois. As everything French exerted a strong attraction on royalty and aristocracy across Europe, oboes - mostly alongside bassoons - appeared in court chapels outside France. The horn, on the other hand, was very much a German/Austrian addition to the wind band. Its history goes back to the Middle Ages, but technical changes in the early decades of the 18th century allowed it to play an increasingly important role at royal and aristocratic courts. From ancient times the horn was associated with the hunt, and in the 18th century it was naturally associated with kings and aristocrats, given that hunting was one of their main preoccupations.

When the oboe arrived in Germany, the Stadtpfeifer were expected to learn how to play that instrument. However, they met with competition from ensembles of Hautboisten, who sometimes were given special duties. They also could play the role otherwise taken by the Stadtpfeifer, such as marching with muted oboes in front of the mourners at funerals or taking part in church services and public entertainment. It is notable that the hautboisten did not only play oboe and bassoon, but were also expected to be able to play other instruments and to compose and arrange music. In that respect, they were not very different from the Stadtpfeifer.

The duty to compose and to arrange music is particularly relevant with regard to the present disc. The programme includes pieces by Georg Philipp Telemann, who wrote thirteen works for an ensemble of wind players, oboes or oboi d'amore and bassoon, in some cases with horns. These are catalogued with the number TWV 44; two of them are performed here. The other pieces bear witness to the practice of arranging music for winds. The programme opens with the Overture in F (TWV 55,F3, which is originally scored for two horns, two oboes, bassoon, strings and basso continuo. This work has been arranged by Georg Corall for the wind instruments mentioned. The liner-notes don't discuss the details of the arrangement, but apparently it is more than just omitting the string parts. Notable is the closing movement, called 'fanfare'. As one may expect, the horns play a prominent role here, right from the start, as they open the proceedings.

The two Overtures in c minor (TWV 55,c1 and c2) were conceived for strings and basso continuo, the latter with two additional oboes. Here a compilation of these two overtures has been arranged for two oboes, taille and bassoon. From these overtures those movements have been chosen "that best work with this instrumentation".

The remainder of the programme consists of pieces originally intended for winds. The Concerto à 5 in D is for two oboi d'amore, two horns and bassoon. It is in four movements, according to the concerto form Telemann mostly preferred, rooted in the sonata da chiesa. The Overture in F (TWV 44,10) bears witness to the connection between wind instruments and the hunt. It is called 'La Chasse' (the hunt) and its last movement, 'Le Plaisir', refers to the countryside where the hunt took place. Maybe it depicts the delight of the hunters after a succesfull hunting party. The horns play a major role in the opening ouverture.

The music is performed here with wind instruments alone, without the support of a harpsichord. According to the liner-notes, it cannot be excluded that this kind of pieces were played now and then with a harpsichord. It needs to be said that music for winds could also be performed indoors, and in such cases the oboe parts could be adapted for violins. However, there is no iconographic evidence that harpsichords may have been transported to the field.

It is remarkable that in recent years several discs have been released with this kind of repertoire. This is a most welcome development, as wind ensembles played a much more important role (before the Harmoniemusik of the classical era) than one would guess on the basis of what has been recorded. Les hautboïstes de prusse deliver fine performances here; the horns are especially impressive. I would have liked some stronger dynamic shading, but even so, I recommend this disc to anyone who likes the sound of baroque wind instruments.

Johan van Veen (© 2019)

Relevant links:

Georg Corall

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