Notes and Editorial Reviews
Civilization and sociability, along with near-unfailing invention and real craftsmanship, are the characteristics always most readily associated with Telemann’s chamber music. They are qualities that are not to be gainsaid, particularly when it comes to inventiveness, since even when not displaying it to its fullest degree, as I think is the case in some of the works on the present disc, it ensured that Telemann rarely, if ever, fell back on the kind of note-spinning to which Vivaldi was on occasion prone.
The best of the works here is probably the B-Minor Sonata, the third of a set of six sonatas for two violins and continuo composed in tribute to Corelli, and published in Hamburg in 1735. Like Bach, Telemann was something of
a musical sponge, from the start of his compositional career soaking up a diverse range of influences. The Sonate corellisante is his own mature tribute to the profound impression made by the Italian master on musicians throughout Europe, and a pertinent reminder that not all Continental musicians found Corelli hopelessly old-fashioned by the mid 1730s. Although the sonatas follow the Corellian pattern of a sequence of alternating slow and often fugal quicker movements, and show mastery of such typically Corellian devices as suspensions, they are by no means slavish imitations. Telemann grafted on to the framework many elements of his own rather more robust style, as for example the piquant harmony in the Soave (V) of the present concerto. Musica Alta Ripa’s performance, too, is more muscular than that of Collegium Musicum 90, who give all six concertos in more refined, Corellian style on Chandos CHAN 0549.
Both the Concerto in D, a ripieno concerto for two violins, viola and continuo, and the F-Major Ouverture also make for welcome additions in the series. The opening Largo of the former ensures the disc gets off to the most ingratiating of starts, the intertwining, wandering arpeggiations played by Anne Röhrig and Ursula Bundies with winning warmth and affection. The six-movement Ouverture is scored for the unusual combination of two violas and continuo, and if Telemann rarely seems interested in exploiting their special color or trio-sonata texture, there is much compensation in the verve of the bucolic Gavotte (III), and especially in the richly conceived Air (V), where the chains of thirds make for beguiling listening.
The two sonatines come from the Nouvelles Sonatines, a collection published in 1730. Discovered in complete form only recently, they are typical of their composer in being designated as suitable for a variety of solo instruments, the C-Minor here being allotted to Michael McCraw’s bassoon, while the A-Minor is played by the excellent Danya Segal on the recorder. Both are attractive works calling for a considerable degree of virtuosity that is here delivered with dextrous fluency, but neither would, I think, make it into anyone’s favorite Telemann list. With the exception of a rather over-deliberate tempo for the Bassoon Sonata’s Siciliano (II), the performances (and engineering) are once again an unmitigated delight, further underlining the desirability of an outstanding series.
Brian Robins, FANFARE
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