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Georg Philipp TELEMANN
(1681 - 1767)
The Autograph Scores
Overture for two horns, bassoon, strings and bc in F (TWV 55,F16)
Concerto for strings and bc in D (after TWV 43,D4) [6:56]
Overture for violin, strings and bc in A (TWV 55,A7) [19:00]
Overture for two transverse flutes, bassoon, strings and bc in D
(TWV 55,D23) [22:09] -
Fanfare for two transverse flutes, horn, bassoon, strings and bc
in D (TWV 50,44) [01:24]
Divertimento for two transverse flutes, two horns, strings and bc
in E flat (TWV 50,21) [10:42]
Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage
rec. 16-18 November 2011, All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London,
CHANDOS CHAN0787 [79:18]
During his long life Georg Philipp Telemann composed a large
amount of music. Until his death He remained active in this
field until death intervened and this disc includes some of
his last compositions. These date from 1766 and were written
on the occasion of the nameday of Ludwig VIII, Landgrave of
Darmstadt. Although he complained about his failing eyesight
Telemann was highly motivated to compose some works for the
Landgrave. They have been preserved in a manuscript which belonged
to his grandson Georg Michael. These nine pieces are exactly
half of the 18 works which have been preserved in Telemann's
Three compositions in the programme were written for the Landgrave.
In two of them a pair of horns play a prominent role. The horn
was usually associated with the hunt - one of the main occupations
of princes and aristocrats. Moreover the Landgrave was known
for being a fanatical huntsman. The Overture in F is
scored for two horns, bassoon, strings and bc and is headed
by a dedication to Ludwig VIII. It has been suggested that this
piece may have been performed in the Landgrave's hunting palace
near Darmstadt. This Overture includes various passages
with hunting motifs. Some movements are for strings only, and
there are passages for a trio of two horns and bassoon. The
piece closes with 'La Tempête', a musical depiction of
Quite different in character is the Overture in D which
is scored for two transverse flutes, bassoon, strings and bc.
The most striking feature is the inclusion of a 'Plainte', a
kind of piece which also frequently turns up in French music
of the 17th century, both in operas and in instrumental music.
It lends this overture a rather old-fashioned character. It
is interrupted by a lively gaillarde. Also in this overture
are a sarabande - another slow dance - and a passacaille, a
further reference to French music. It then comes as a surprise
that the Overture ends with a Fanfare which has been
allocated a different number in the catalogue of Telemann’s
oeuvre. According to most scholars it was intended as the last
movement of the Overture. All of a sudden a horn joins the orchestra
which has to be interpreted as another reference to the Landgrave’s
love of hunting. It brings this rather introverted orchestral
suite to an exuberant close.
The disc ends with the Divertimento in E flat, one of
three compositions in Telemann's oeuvre which bear this name.
The other two are for strings and bc. This one includes parts
for two flutes and two horns. Scholars are not completely sure
that it was written for the Landgrave, but it seems very likely.
It depicts a day in the life of a prince or aristocrat. After
an introductory allegro we hear 'La Réveille', then the
'conversation at the table', followed by the reveille for the
hunting party. When this is over we get the meal and the piece
closes with the retreat, which is depicted by a dance. According
to the booklet this piece is recorded here for the first time.
The two remaining works are from an earlier date. They are very
different in scoring and character. I don't understand why more
pieces from the same manuscript were not performed instead.
The Concerto in D is in fact a quartet for strings and
bc. In his liner-notes Nicholas Anderson states that this is
an early version of one of the quartets for transverse flute,
violin, viola and bc in the Quatrième Livre de quatuors
which were published in Paris somewhere between 1752 and 1760.
This string version may date from before 1716. As in many early
works counterpoint plays an important role; the second movement
is a fugal vivace.
The Overture in A is one of a number of orchestral suites
which includes a solo part, in this case for the violin. Telemann
scholar Steven Zohn calls this kind of overture a concert
en ouverture. It also shows French influence and it has
been suggested that Telemann could have written it after a stay
in Paris in 1737/38. For a long time it was considered a fragment
in three movements as a part of the original material was destroyed
during World War II. In later years it has been reconstructed
to the form in which it is played here. It begins with the traditional
ouverture which is followed by six movements with the
title Invention. These are mostly dances, such as rigaudon,
passepied or gavotte en rondeau. The most remarkable Invention
is the third, which - despite its indication as an alternation
of grave and vite - is rather Italian in style,
and has the character of an operatic scene. Invention V
includes passages for the violin in which use is made of the
Simon Standage has made many recordings with music by Telemann.
It is for that reason that in 2010 he received the Georg-Philipp-Telemann-Preis
from the city of Magdeburg, where Telemann was born. That is
surely well-deserved. I have to admit, though, that I am always
rather sceptical when British ensembles play German baroque
music, and Standage's interpretations are no exception. The
performances on this disc are pretty good, but if you compare
them with recordings of German ensembles the latter come out
on top. These have more nuance in the interpretation, for instance
in regard to articulation and the treatment of dynamics. The
tempo contrasts in these performances are rather moderate. The
tempo of the forlane in the Overture in F can hardly
be considered très vite as Telemann required.
It is especially in the playing of the strings where Standage
and his players fail to secure a really satisfying result. On
the other hand, the execution of the parts for the flutes and
the horns is outstanding. The bassoon is a bit underexposed,
probably due to the recording rather than the bassoonist's playing.
As the works on this disc belong to the lesser-known parts of
Telemann's oeuvre and his music never fails to entertain, lovers
of his music should surely consider this disc.
Johan van Veen
see also review by Dominy