Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Telemann's surprises

We'll be hearing a lot of Telemann in 2017, the 250th anniversary of the great composer's death. I doubt, though, that many discs will be as well-planned and stylishly performed as this splendid release from Alpha Classics, with Giovanni Antonini leading Il Giardino Armonico, and playing recorder and chalumeau.

Antonini raises the curtain with a clever little Prelude for solo recorder by Jacques-Martin Hotteterre. Telemann's Suite in A Minor is quite well known, but this is a performance to take special note of. Antonini is in a groove throughout both as a soloist and conductor, providing a high level of virtuosity, but never missing out on Telemann's many expressive possibilities. Some of the other works are a bit more obscure, but there are many gems to be uncovered here. Most astonishing is the Grave movement from a Quartet for 2 chalumeaux (early clarinets), violin and continuo. This is a kind of salon piece with the slightest hints of Eastern European folk music and even tango, a very sexy number! 

Here is the entire Quartet; the Grave movement begins at 6:10. Also, listen for the mock heroics in the finale; Telemann is having fun here! And the musicians are as well.

The whole disc is full of moments like this. I am astonished by the endless surprises Telemann gives us. He has lived in Bach's shadow for a very long time; perhaps 2017 will be his year in the sun.

Here is the fifth movement from Telemann's Suite in A Minor, entitled Réjouissance (Rejoicing). We can indeed rejoice in such invention by Telemann, and such virtuosity by Antonini and his fellow musicians.

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