Notes and Editorial Reviews
Fugues légères et petits jeux,
48 Chorale Preludes,
TWV 31: 1–48.
Ouverturen nebst zween Folgesätzen,
Partias: in G,
Roberto Loreggian (hpd, org)
BRILLIANT 94337 (5 CDs: 327:10)
As I set out to write this review, I pawed through my not small Telemann collection looking for comparison discs, and found not a one. This is not too surprising, as Telemann’s solo keyboard music has not received the attention of musicians and record companies in the way much of his other work has. It appears that this collection does not contain all of Telemann’s keyboard works—I note, for example, a Harmonia Mundi disc on which harpsichordist John Butt plays 20 fantasias from TWV 33. For Centaur, Joseph Payne started a series of Telemann’s “complete” works for keyboard with a two-disc set of all the TWV 33 fantasias, but that was issued in 1996 and I have not seen any follow-ups to that release. Thus, Telemann’s admirers should welcome this five-CD set from Brilliant Classics, even if it is not comprehensive. (Presumably there is more to come.)
Telemann might not have been as deep as Bach, and might not have risen to his heights, but he was arguably broader, and there’s nothing on these discs that is second-rate. He was a sort of musical sponge that soaked up influences from all over Europe, and particularly Poland. Among the learned counterpoint on these discs you’ll also find raucous peasant parties, honest-to-God dances, and nods to the French aristocracy. At some junctures you might think, “That sounds like Couperin,” and at others, “That sounds like Purcell.” You’ll also find music in the same style that Bach was working in at about the same time. There is enough stylistic variety here to carry you through all five discs in a single afternoon, if you are so minded.
Most of the music in this collection is played on a modern copy of a harpsichord by M. Mietke. The organ works, which take up only the second half of the first CD (20
) and all of the second (48 Chorale Preludes) are played on either a smallish “Truhenorgel” (CD 1) or a full-sized organ (CD 2), both of them also modern instruments. As I’ve mentioned previously, one’s reaction to Baroque music often depends on one’s reaction to the tonal qualities of the instruments that it is played on. Loreggian was lucky to have had access to attractive-sounding instruments that suit Telemann’s music well.
A comprehensive description of the complete contents of these discs probably is not necessary, but perhaps I can whet the potential buyer’s appetite with a few comments. The six
Fugues légères et petits jeux
are quite unusual in that each is a short suite, four or five minutes long, in which three or four movements in what might be called a popular style are prefaced by a relatively uncomplicated fugue. The juxtapositions are charming. The 20
, which Telemann dedicated to Benedetto Marcello, are even more simple. The longest lasts only 1:37, and while some are more engaging than others, at no point does listening to them, even back to back, seem like a chore. In the 48 Chorale Preludes, Loreggian’s imaginative but always appropriate organ registrations complement Telemann’s creativity and inquisitiveness.
Loreggian’s earlier recordings have been praised in
, and I have no reason to disagree. Without seeming driven, his playing is lively and well articulated, and he is always sensitive to Telemann’s stylistic variety, whether it is tending, at any given moment, to the courtly or to the common. Loreggian made these recordings in Parma—he teaches at the conservatory there—during the summer of 2012, and what could have turned into a sticky and monotonous project (“Next!”) is consistently enlivened by Loreggian’s alert and penetrating musicianship. This might not be the most important music, but it is easy to swallow, and anyone who has enjoyed the work of a composer who apparently was even more prolific than Bach is hereby encouraged to let Loreggian guide them through this relatively unfamiliar territory.
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
Works on This Recording
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