Notes and Editorial Reviews
Suites for Strings: in G,
“La bizarre,” TWV 55: G2;
“La musette,” TWV 55:g1;
“La lyra,” TWV 55:Es3
B’Rock (period instruments)
ET’CETERA 4027 (50: 46)
When it comes to Telemann’s works designated “overture-suites” and simply “suites,” there appears to be no difference since they all mostly start with an overture. In fact, lest confusion reign, let me
say that the three works identified on the current disc simply as “suites” will be found listed by arkivmusic.com as “overture-suites.” Those for strings alone appear to have received less attention on recordings, with only one or two listings each. The most often recorded are those including diverse instruments, with the Overture-Suite in A-Minor for recorder and strings, TWV 55:a2, winning the popularity contest hands down with over 40 current available versions. The three-strings-only suites offered here are not new to the catalog, but alternate choices are few. Happily, therefore, I can report that this new release with the Flemish period-instrument Baroque ensemble B’Rock really rocks. Founded as recently as 2005 by harpsichordist, composer, and conductor Frank Agsteribbe, and double bassist Tom Devaere, the group’s home base is in Ghent.
The key to Telemann, I think, is in appreciating that he was a composite of German, Italian, and French influences—or, as note author Florian Hayerick puts it, a combination of “German thoroughness, French frivolity, and Italian panache.” The French titles of the suites may call to mind the kinds of character sketches François Couperin drew in his solo keyboard suites, but Telemann’s use of such titles is not programmatic or pictorial; rather, they point to specific musical devices. The suite titled “La musette,” for example, employs a sustained, unchanging drone tone in two of its movements in imitation of bagpipes; while the “La bizarre” suite is descriptive of nothing, but is truly aberrant (for its time) in its use of polymetric technique. The Branle movement sports a different time signature (four in all) for each of its parts. The “La lyra” suite imitates the hurdy-gurdy, or
, commonly known as the beggar’s lyre.
B’Rock launches into their mission with great relish, zest, and gusto. Tempos are brisk but not breathless; phrases are sharply delineated but not clipped; tone production is refined but not attenuated; and intonation is spot on. There are real verve and vitality to these performances, recorded in superior sound in November 2007 in Ghent’s de Bijloke concert hall. The CD is a thorough delight from start to finish, and is highly recommended.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
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