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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
‘Recorder sonatas and fantasias’

Sonata for recorder and bc in F (TWV 41:F2) [05:59]
Fantasia for recorder in d (orig: b minor) (TWV 40:4) [03:54]
Canonic Sonata for recorder and bc in B flat (TWV 41:B4) [06:48]
Fantasia for recorder in g minor (orig: e minor) (TWV 40:9) [04:37]
Sonata for recorder and bc in C (TWV 41:C5) [07:41]
Fantasia for recorder in a minor (orig: f sharp minor) (TWV 40:11) [05:10]
Fantasia for recorder in C (orig: A) (TWV 40:2) [03:57]
Sonata for recorder and bc in f minor (TWV 41:f1) [10:45]
Fantasia for recorder in B flat (orig: G) (TWV 40:12) [03:47]
Sonata for recorder and bc in d minor (TWV 41:d4) [09:27]
Fantasia for recorder in F (orig: D) (TWV 40:8) [04:48]
Sonata for recorder and in C (TWV 41:C2) [07:26]
Frans Brüggen (recorder), Anner Bijlsma (cello), Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord)
Recorded 1963-1972 ADD
WARNER APEX 2564 60368 2 [74:48]


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The recorder was one of the first instruments to be rediscovered as part of the growing interest in ‘early music’ at the beginning of the 20th century. "When, after about 160 years of neglect, it began to regain some of its popularity as a result of the singing movement in the 1920s and 1930s, it was largely considered to be an instrument that was easy to play and thus ideally suited to amateur music-making. However, the recorder groups of the youth music schools often deterred people from learning to play the instrument," writes Martin Elste in the booklet. As he rightly says, it was in particular the Dutch recorder player Frans Brüggen who, in the early 1960s, was able to turn the recorder into an instrument which was taken seriously among professional musicians. He not only devoted his attention to the interpretation of music of the renaissance and the baroque, on original instruments he collected, or on copies of those instruments, but also encouraged contemporary composers to write works for the recorder.

Two circumstances worked in his favour – apart from his own great musical skills, of course. He cooperated with two first class musicians who thought along the same lines in regard to the interpretation of early music, namely the cellist Anner Bijlsma and the harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt. For many years they gave concerts all over the world and made a huge impression on their audiences. The second factor was that the record company Telefunken started its early music series ‘Das Alte Werk’. It gave Brüggen, Bijlsma and Leonhardt the opportunity to record baroque music on period instruments.

This CD presents a collection of pieces which were recorded during the 1960s and early 1970s. There is no information on the recorders used here – all treble recorders – which is a shame, since many of them are probably original historical instruments.

It is no wonder the whole disc is devoted to Telemann. He wrote many pieces for the recorder, an instrument he very likely played himself (Telemann could play many of instruments). They were part of several collections with chamber music, like ‘Der getreue Music-Meister’ (1728-29) (TWV 41:F2, B3, f1, C2) and the ‘Essercizii Musici’ (1739-40) (TWV 41:C5, d4). The Fantasias were originally written for the transverse flute, as the title says: "12 Fantasies à Travers, sans Basse" (1732-33). In his recordings Brüggen has transposed them to make them playable on the recorder. I have added the original keys in the track list.

I regret that no information is given as to when each piece was recorded. The booklet only states that 4 of the fantasias were recorded in 1969 and 1971. Listening to this CD from beginning to end, there is a clear development in the interpretation. It seems to me that the Sonatas in F (F2), B flat (B3) and d minor (d4) are the earliest. The recording of these contains considerably more noise and there is a strong separation of the left and right channel (left: recorder, right: basso continuo). The interpretation in the earlier recordings is characterised by a pretty strong vibrato in the recorder playing and relatively little ornamentation. Interestingly, though, one of the features of the continuo playing of Bijlsma and Leonhardt – the strong ‘drive’ – is already there.

Among the highlights of this collection are the Fantasias, which are played brilliantly. Here Brüggen plays with more freedom and imagination and a strong sense of the rhetorical character of these pieces. He is really telling a story on his recorder.

What is this recording all about: Telemann or Brüggen? I would say that the early recordings really can’t compete with more recent recordings of this repertoire. The Fantasias, on the other hand, certainly can. But I would like to recommend this CD above all as testimony to the art of Frans Brüggen, who not only played a key role in the emancipation of the recorder, but also – through the large numbers of pupils – had a considerable influence on the development of the historical performance practice.

Johan van Veen

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