Georg Philipp Telemann
Concertos and Sonatas for Recorder, Viola da gamba and Strings
TT- 66:32 released 11/1995, remastered re-issue 10/2007
Concerto for Recorder and Strings in C major (TWV 51:C1)
1 Allegretto 3:03
2 Allegro 3:48
3 Andante 3:43
4 Tempo di Minuet 5:46
Trio for Recorder, Viola di gamba and Basso continuo in G minor (TWV 42:F3)
5 Soave ma non adagio 2:09
6 Vivace 1:43
7 Largo 1:28
8 Allegro 1:23
Suite for Viola di gamba and Strings in D major (TWV 55:D6)
9 Ouverture 4:32
10 La trompette 1:37
11 Sarabande 4:12
12 Rondeau 1:27
13 Bourée 2:33
14 Courante. Double 3:24
15 Gigue 3:02
Trio for Recorder, Viola di gamba and Basso continuo in F major (TWV 42:G9)
16 Vivace 2:40
17 Mesto 1:26
18 Allegro 2:23
Concerto for Recorder, Viola da gamba and Strings in A minor (TWV 51:A1)
19 Grave 3:52
20 Allegro 4:28
21 Dolce 3:16
22 Allegro 3:43
Jiří Stivín - alto recorder Petr Hejný - viola da gamba
Pro Arte Antiqua Praha
Václav Návrat - violin (1-4,19-22), treble viol (10-15)
Jan Šimon - violin (1-4), viola (19-22), soprano viol (10-15)
Ivo Anýž - viola (1-4), viola da braccio (10-15)
Hana Fleková - cello (5-8,16-22)
Milan Vlček - viola da gamba (1-4,10-15)
Aleš Bárta - harpsichord
Georg Philipp Telemann (14. 3.1681 Magdeburg - 25. 6.1767 Hamburg)
During the first half of the 18th century Protestant Germany was home to a large number of composers, one of the most prominent being the extremely prolific Georg Philipp Telemann. He wrote several dozen operas, mainly for Leipzig and Hamburg where he was working, numerous church cantatas of all kinds, trio sonatas and chamber concertos which excell in their melodic invention and perfect cultivation of form.
Telemann came from an intellectual bourgeois family, a number of whose members had a university education. He taught himself composition using techniques acquired from copying the works of other composers. In 1701 he enrolled for Leipzig university but the success of his church cantatas inspired him to remain faithful to his music. He founded the student ensemble Collegium musicum which boasted forty members and which was later conducted by J.S.Bach. In 1702 he assumed the musical direction of the Leipzig opera for which he wrote over twenty works; unfortunately they did not survive. From 1704 he had a number of appointments as kapellmeister in orchestras founded by the nobility. He worked for example first in Leipzig, then in Eisenach, in 1712-21 he directed the orchestra in Frankfurt; he worked in Hamburg until his death where, in 1722, he assumed the post of musical director of the municipal opera house and public concerts. In 1737 he journeyed to Paris for eight months at the invitation of musicians in residence there.
Georg Philipp Telemann was an exceptionally prolific composer. Even today the extent of his work is not known but the rough estimate is two thousand compositions. He wrote with exceptional ease, his immediate originality of ideas never left him, he liked to experiment and discovered interesting musical solutions in harmony, form and instrumentation.
Of the many operas he wrote, Der geduldige Socrates from 1721 is considered one of his best along with the intermezzo Pimpinone from 1725. He wrote 23 volumes of church cantatas over the same number of years, one every Sunday! Of his secular cantatas Der Schulmeister, about the immoderate self-importance of a teacher-composer, and the dramatic solo cantata Ino from 1765, are the most popular. The most significant work from his hundreds of orchestral suites is Musique de Table from 1733. He also composed sonatas for various instruments. Telemann was an exceedingly skilful composer; he composed in the French or Italian styles, depending on requirement. He was also able to adjust his style to suit musical development. During his stay at the castle in Sorau in Silesia where he found himself in the employment of Count von Promnitz during the period 1704-8, he became acquainted with Polish folk music which charmed him with its spontaneity. It was during this time that he composed several works based on Polish folk themes.
During his lifetime Telemann was afforded even higher regard than Bach. He represented the type of blessed artist whose sound musicianship blended with a fine but perceptive intellect.
Telemann's Instrumental Music Just as life emerges from a duality of principles, the music of Telemann's era also followed two fundamental streams which flowed out into German speaking lands and took with them travelling musicians bearing prints and copies of compositions written in the Italian and French styles.
In the fascinating character sketches of many of Telemann's contemporaries we read that "Italians endeavour to imitate the passion of the soul until it seems that they indeed suffer the emotions about which they sing, whereas the French need only to delight their ear with the continuous grace which conceals their energy..." (M.Mersenne, 1636-37). Or we may read that "the French wish to be soft, pleasing and fluent, whereas the Italians venture what is rough and unfamiliar but they do so like people who have the right to take risks and who are sure of their success! With Italians [...] the storm of anger and the symphony of furies shake the soul; the performing artist is captured by an inevitable agony, he torments his violin, he sways about; he is no longer lord over himself; instead he is excited like someone obsessed with an urgency of motion" (F.Raquenet, 1702). Joachim Quantz adds drily, fifty years later: "Italian instrumentalists are decadent and eccentric, but also agile...French music is rooted in composition rather than interpretation; with Italian music it is the other way round."
This difference in character was manifested in the contrasting approach to the completion of a work, especially with regard to ornamentation. The Italians sprinkled each composition with a wealth of intricate passages, trills and runs chiefly of a variational character whereas the French worked out a perfect structure of short, very precisely defined ornamentation whose appearance was marked by sharps or other symbols. There also existed a contrast in the liking for certain musical forms. In Italy the sonata and concerto form was used to present instrumentalists in Italy (in particular the Viennese three-movement form: quick-slow-quick); in France it was the dance suite, a classification of a larger number of varied dances beginning with the essential overture. A typical example is the Suite for solo viola da gamba and strings on this recording.
Two landmarks were important for Telemann's musical orientation in such an influential environment. The first of them was his appointment in 1705 as kapellmeister at the court of Count Erdmann II of Promnitz in Sorau (now Zary in Poland). The Count was a great lover of French music and ostentatious court ceremony, thus an important duty of the new kapellmeister was to compose French overtures and dances in the style of Lully. During his six-month stay in Poland Telemann also discovered Polish folk music, whose "barbaric beauty" was to enchant him for the rest of his life.
A further important period in Telemann's life was when he settled at the court in Eisenach in 1708. He began to compose a large number of concertos, overtures and chamber works for the orchestra, a medium he greatly valued. By this time he was a great admirer of French music. He often gave preference to the suite form of the concerto rather than to the Italian three-movement arrangement which was adopted by the majority of Germans from the North (including J.S.Bach). His concertos do not contain any strict scheme concerning the number of movements, their relationships or the structure of the first movement. Everything is free and creative...
Romain Rolland once described him as the "breeze of fresh air" in German music. Telemann himself said that he was not at all a lover of the purely virtuoso type of concerto. This fresh air wafts mainly through his instrumental music intended mainly for amateurs of home music-making. By writing and publishing a great amount of music which is not too technically demanding but, at the same time, is full of vigour and excellent ideas, Telemann's accelerated the process of the important style changes which resulted in the pre-Classical style.
With typical alchemist "coniunctio oppositorum" (joining of opposites) Telemann added Italian playfulness and improvisation to French forms and he created from them his "courtly style" which brings about dark emotions merely with a light touch and a glow of sensibility, but not with destructive passion...
Thus the interpretation of this music should in no way be a precise and mechanical pulse of counterpoint but it should instead take the form of agile, social dialogue - sometimes joyful, sometimes earnest but never contrived. Jiří Stivín and Petr Hejný are the ideal media for this type of immediacy. One as a jazzman and brilliant improviser, the other as a sensitive artist able to transform the piece in a manner which Tao would describe: "To know how not to do something is the highest achievement; not to know how to do something is an illness..."