The booklet notes for this release are an education in their own right. Stephan Schardt outlines his associations with the music of Telemann, but light is also shone on the composer’s own association with the violin. A full background to the origins and Italian models of the sonatas is given in some detail, illustrating how the German composer did his best to eradicate the “difficulties and crooked leaps … little harmony and still worse melody” of the Italian concertos he had encountered.
Johan van Veen has reviewed
this disc already, and as he has already covered most of the technical aspects of the music I feel a personal response should suffice. Van Veen mentions a lack of differentiation and undercooked character with stressed and unstressed notes, but I beg to differ. Listening as a flute player who has also played reams of Telemann I can only admire Stephan Schardt’s expressive communication of Telemann’s lines and the zippy way in which he contrasts legato smoothness and rhythmic gesture and sentence structure. There is always a line to tread between overdoing certain aspects of these kinds of piece to make them more ‘interesting’, but my strong instinct is that it is far better to provide something which breathes in as natural a way as possible rather than risk over-intellectualising and becoming mannered. Stephan Schardt and his colleagues succeed nicely in bringing these pieces to life without torturing them to find depths which they were never intended to possess in the first place.
This kind of programme; bringing together a collection of pieces which would never have been played all at once in their day, lives or dies by its sense of vibrancy and contrast. Have a listen to the beautiful Cantabile
which opens Sonata III
, the lively Allegro assai
which follows and the muted strings in both violin and harpsichord which make you sit up and pay attention in the charming Andante
. There are little pastoral touches, a joyous subtlety in ornamentation and a palpable feel of enjoyment in this playing which is quite infectious. In a funny kind of way this seems to build as you listen, so quite the reverse of fatigue sets in. The Ouverture
works fine as a filler.
These are not première recordings. Louis Kaufman and Frederick Hammond recorded all six on a release from Orion Master Recordings LAN0028, though with Kaufman’s dated sounding vibrato this is not a realistic alternative. These have also re-emerged in a more up-front mastering on the Music & Arts label (see review
With fun-filled playing and ensemble musicianship of the utmost refinement in MDG’s excellent 2+2+2 SACD recording this is a release of strangely off the beaten track Baroque music which I can wholeheartedly endorse.
Previous review: Johan van Veen