Record of the day: Georg P. Telemann, "Flute Quartets"

Record of the day: Georg P. Telemann, “Flute Quartets”

Georg Philipp Telemann
Quartets with flute (Cd Archiv 002894775379)

How much music did Telemann compose? An enormous quantity, the volume of which exceeds the complete works of Bach and Handel combined. Until a few years ago his name was linked more than anything else to the vast cycle of “Tafelmusik” (1733), chamber compositions designed as a pleasant accompaniment for parties and banquets of the German nobility of the time, and the good Telemann has always been considered like a good craftsman capable of churning out pleasant music on command in industrial quantities, or little more.

Over the last twenty years, thanks also to the tireless rediscovery work of the musician Reinhard Goebel (founder and director
of the ensemble Musica Antiqua Köln) much of Telemann’s production has been brought to light and appreciated in concert halls around the world. Obviously Telemann does not very often reach the heights of his two great contemporary colleagues but this does not mean that in his moments of greatest inspiration (and these beautiful quartets certainly belong to his most inspired pages, not surprisingly highly praised by his contemporaries) he is capable of writing music of excellent workmanship, perfectly balanced from a formal point of view despite its curious grafting of the form of the Concerto and that of the Sonata (in a previously unpublished way), with fresh and spontaneous melodies combined with an complex counterpoint that never sounds artificial and a use of instrumental virtuosity of notable intelligence and refinement.

The importance of these works is also demonstrated by the numerous copies that circulated in those years even outside of
Germany, establishing itself as a model of writing whose influence on French and German Baroque composers rivaled that of Vivaldi’s instrumental works.
The concertante role of the transverse flute in these scores is of great difficulty and is dominated by Verena Fischer with authentic mastery, but all the members of this magnificent group, who have been a guarantee of quality in the baroque repertoire for many years, are to be praised unconditionally; philologically perfect, their performances are never rhythmically rigid but manage to combine an austere stylistic approach with great executive verve, phrasing with imagination and skill, always achieving enthralling results.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.