Notes and Editorial Reviews
An important and delightful issue which should make instant appeal among lovers of eighteenth-century music.
During the 1720s and 1730s Telemann prepared and to a large extent oversaw the printing and publication of a wide diversity of compositions. Chamber cantatas, concertos, orchestral suites, solos, trios and quartets were all represented. The high-water mark of chamber music publications came in the late 1730s with the set of six Paris Quartets (1738) and the Essercizii Musici (c1739). While almost every one of the 24 pieces contained in the latter collection has been recorded in the past, this is the first time that they have been issued as a complete set on disc. There is not a weak composition among them and
Telemann’s collection deserves its place among the most accomplished chamber music anthologies of the late baroque.
Essercizii Musici consists of 12 trios, ten sonatas for melody instrument with basso continuo and two suites for solo harpsichord. The contents are satisfying on two levels since not only do they furnish the listener with unflagging entertainment but they also provide the performer with music written with unusual sympathy for the instruments in question. Telemann, like Toad of Toad Hall, could turn his hand to almost anything and, it would seem, at the drop of a hat, did so. Here we have music both of intrinsically high calibre and of a cast which effortlessly explores the most alluring vocal range of each instrument. It is music which, in short, fulfils one of the composer’s fervently declared aims, to give each instrument what suits it best, thus pleasing both player and audience.
The members of Cologne Camerata, individually and corporately, enliven the music with stylistic and instrumental fluency. In the past I have sometimes found performances by this group rather stiff and unimaginative. Not so here, where each piece seems to have been carefully assessed on its own merit, thoroughly prepared and eloquently lifted off the printed page. Telemann’s distinctive expressive inflexions are not difficult to translate in performance yet their very ingenuousness, simplicity and lack of contrivance too often results in their being glossed over. These musicians revel in the melancholy suspensions, playful gymnastics and convivial instrumental dialogue with which these solos and trios abound. Certainly not all the pieces are of equal depth, but in trios such as that in C minor (No. 1), A major (No. 4), B flat (No. 8) and E flat (No. 12), Telemann reveals an extraordinary puissance, making a contribution to mid-eighteenth century chamber music that is both significant and inspired.
In short, this is an important and delightful issue which should make instant appeal among lovers of eighteenth-century music. Many readers will have one or more of the pieces already; many, too, myself included, will doubtless know of versions which we prefer, either through merit or familiarity. It is when one is confronted by the set as a whole, however, that the extent of Telemann’s achievement becomes fully apparent. Fine recorded sound.
-- Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone [3/1997]
Works on This Recording
Essercizii musici, P 47 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Written: by 1740; Germany
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