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Georg Philipp TELEMANN(1681
- 1767) A Journey through Literature
Burlesque de Quixotte for strings and bc in G (TWV 55,G10) [18:01]
Concerto for recorder, transverse flute, strings and bc in e minor
(TWV 52,e1) [13:29]
Intrada, nebst burlesquer Suite for 2 violins in d 'Gulliver
Suite' (TWV 40,108) [8:50]
Concerto for two transverse flutes [recorder, flute], strings and
bc in a minor (TWV 52,a2) [9:28]
Introduzzione à tre for two instruments and bc in C (TWV 42,C1)
Musique de table, I: Conclusion for two transverse flutes [recorder,
flute], strings and bc in e minor (TWV 50,5) [4:59]
Les Esprits Animaux (Lena Franchini (recorder), Élodie Virot (transverse
flute), Javier Lupiáñez, Tomoe Mihara (violin), David Alonso Molina
(viola), Roberto Alonso (cello), Patricia Vintém (harpsichord))
rec. 23 - 27 April 2011, Espace culturel C.J. Bonnet, chapel of
Jujurieux, France. DDD
AMBRONAY ÉDITIONS AMY302 [69:20]
This disc is part of an Ambronay Editions project, in collaboration
with the Ambronay Festival and the European Baroque Academy,
called 'Young Ensemble Series'. The ensemble which
makes its debut on disc here was founded in 2009. Although none
of the artists is Dutch the group is based in the Netherlands.
It was not long before Les Esprits Animaux were invited to play
in various countries and festivals. Listening to this disc it
is easy to understand why they have enjoyed much quick success.
If an ensemble has the opportunity to make a debut album, which
repertoire to choose? The players came together for the very
first time to play the Concerto in e minor. So that
obviously had to be on their first CD too. Then they sift through
Telemann's oeuvre and find other pieces they wanted to
play. The result is a nice mixture of familiar and less familiar.
Telemann may be one of the most fashionable baroque composers
these days but there is still a lot to find which is not that
As this disc comes without a title, I have used the header of
the track-list as such. It perfectly sums up what it is about:
the programme centres around the connection between literature
and music. Three compositions are specifically based on literature.
The programme begins with one of Telemann's most popular
pieces, the Burlesque de Don Quixotte, based on the
famous novel of Cervantes from the early 17th century. After
the usual overture we hear the awakening of Don Quixote in which
the ensemble gradually increases the volume, going from piano
to forte. Then Don Quixote attacks the windmills, expressed
here in a fast tempo and sharp dynamic accents. Telemann makes
use of Seufzer to depict Quixote's longing for
princess Dulcinea. His squire Sancho Panza is then humorously
portrayed, and when his donkey appears the ensemble manages
to depict its bray. This piece has been frequently recorded,
but it leaves much to the imagination of the performers, and
that makes almost every interpretation different from the others.
The ensemble has taken this freedom which results in an entertaining
In 1726 Jonathan Swift published his novel Gulliver's
Travels. I have not been able to discover when it was first
published in a German translation. One wonders how Telemann
knew this novel, and how many music lovers in Germany were aware
of what it was about. It is the basis of the Intrada, nebst
burlesquer Suite in D. It is generally known as Gulliver
Suite, but there is no reference to the novel in the manuscript.
The connection becomes all too obvious in the titles of the
various movements, though. After an intrada we hear a Lilliputsche
Chaconne which must be the shortest chaconne in history:
just 26 seconds. It is largely notated in hemidemisemiquavers
(1/64) and quarter demisemiquavers (1/128), which suits the
tiny size of the Lilliputians. The plump gigue which follows
it effectively portrays the giants of Brobdingnag. Both movements
are brilliantly played by the two violinists of the ensemble.
The Introduzione à tre in C is included in the collection
Der getreue Music-Meister, and the scoring suggests
it can be played with two instruments and bc as well as by solo
instruments and ripieno. That is the way it is performed
here. Again there is no reference to literature in the title
of this piece. The movements do not refer to specific pieces
of literature, but rather portray various female characters
from antique writings. After the opening introduction we meet
Xanthippe, the wife of the Greek philosopher Socrates and known
for her bad temper. Then follows Lucretia, who killed herself
in order to protect her purity, and Corinna, a Greek poet of
the 6th century B.C. She is followed by Cloelia, who was a hero
during the war between Rome and Clusium, also in the 6th century
B.C. Lastly Dido is portrayed: the character indication is triste,
but in fact this movement is a sequence of slow and fast episodes,
separated by pauses, expressing Dido's sadness and anger.
Telemann needed little more than two minutes for that: a whole
opera in a nutshell.
In his liner-notes Javier Lupiáñez underlines that music was
considered a language in the baroque era. Even instrumental
pieces with no literary references tell a story. For this reason
these compositions are never that far away from being literature-inspired.
That is certainly the case in the Concerto in e minor
in which the recorder and the transverse flute are absorbed
in dialogue, which is eloquently demonstrated in the playing
as well as the recording. The largo is given an intimate reading,
whereas the folkloristic character of the closing presto is
performed with much creativity. The Concerto in a minor
was originally scored for two transverse flutes; here one of
the parts is played on the recorder.
I have already indicated that I am pleased with this recording.
In fact, I believe that this ensemble could hardly have made
a better debut. In the familiar pieces it shows that it is well
up to the competition. The programme also bears witness to their
willingness to look for the less obvious. The combination of
creative programming, technical maturity and musical persuasiveness
makes this a promising debut.
Johan van Veen
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