|About this Recording
8.553725 - TELEMANN: Musique de Table (Tafelmusik), Vol. 2
Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Georg Philipp Telemann was among the most distinguished composers of his time, a rival to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach in reputation, and the certain preference of the Leipzig authorities for the position of Cantor at the St Thomas Choir School, where Bach was eventually appointed in 1723, Telemann had, in 1721, taken the position of Cantor of the Johanneum in Hamburg, with musical responsibility for the five principal churches of the city. His negotiations with Leipzig a year later proved the means to secure better conditions in Hamburg, where he remained until his death in 1767, He was succeeded there by his godson Cari Pbilipp Emanuel Bach, the second son of Johann Sebastian.
Born in Magdeburg in 1681, Telemann belonged to a family that had long been connected with the Lutheran Church. His father was a clergyman and his mother the daughter of a clergyman, while his eider brother also took orders, a path that he too might have followed, had it not been for his exceptional musical ability. As a cbild he showed some precocity, but it was while he was a student at Leipzig University, wbich he entered in 1701, that a career in music became inevitable. He founded the University Collegium Musicum that Bach was later to direct and in 1703 became musical director of the Leipzig Opera, composing some twenty operas himself. At the same time he involved his fellow-students in a great deal of public performance, to the annoyance of the Thomascantor, Bach's immediate predecessor, Kuhnau, who saw his prerogative now endangered.
After Leipzig Telemann went on to become Kapellmeister to Count Erdmann II of Promnitz, a nobleman with a taste for French music, and in 1708 moved to Eisenach, following this with a position as director of music to the city of Frankfurt am Main in 1712. There were other offers of employment elsewhere, but it was to Hamburg that he finally moved in 1721, to remain there for the rest of his life.
As a composer Telemann was prolific, providing an enormous body of work, both sacred and secular. This included 1043 church cantatas and 46 settings of the Passions, one for each of the years he was in Hamburg. He continued to involve himself in public performances of opera in Hamburg, arousing some opposition from the city council, his employers. Once he had strengthened his position he took additional responsibility as director of the Hamburg Opera, while active in publishing and selling much of the music that he wrote. Four years Bach's senior, he outlived him by seventeen years, so that by the time of his death Haydn was 35 and Mozart was eleven. His musical style developed with the times, from the characteristically late Baroque to the new style galant exemplified by his godson.
Telemann's Musique de table was published in 1733, a collection of music divided into three Productions, each one containing an overture with a suite for seven instruments, a quartet, a concerto for seven instruments, a trio, a solo and a conclusion for seven instruments, and advertised as offering a variety of instrumentation. On the title-page where this is announced Telemann declares himse!f to be Maître de Chapelle to Their Highnesses the Duke of Saxe- Eisenach and the Margrave of Bayreuth and Director of Music in Hamburg. Telemann had been appointed to the position of Kapellmeister von Haus aus (visiting Kapellmeister) to the Duke of Saxe-Eisenach in 1717, with the dut y of providing music for the church, Tafel Music and the necessary music for solemn occasions. The appointment confirmed his earlier activity and residence at Eisenach from 1708 until1712, when he took up his appointment in Frankfort. In Leipzig, Eisenach and Fraukfurt, as subsequently in Hamburg, he was closely involved with the provision and performance of instrumental music. In Hamburg he held regular weekly meetings of the Collegium Musicum, at first in his house and then in the Drillhaus, reviving an institution comparable to that which he had founded in Leipzig and worked with in Frankfurt, but which before his arrivai had fallen into abeyance.
Telemann's wide reputation by 1733 is wituessed by the list of 206 subscribers to the Musique de table. 52 of these came from abroad and included among them musicians of great distinction, such as the French flautist and composer Blavet and, from London, Mr. Hendel Docteur en Musique, while German subscribers ranged from members of the nobility to leading figures in the world of music. The work is in the French style. As Telemann explained in a letter to the composer Graun, since there was nothing new to be found in melody, so novelty must be sought in the harmony, an unduly modest assessment of his acbievement.
The Trio of the flfst Produktion of Musique de table is in E flat major and starts with a movement marked Affettuoso. This follows the usual pattern of a trio- sonata, with two violins and continuo. The second violin first proposes the subject, wbich is then imitated a fifth bigher by the flfst violin in a movernent that aiternates agreement between the two violins and antiphonal writing, as one responds to the other. Two slow chords provide a link to a Vivace in 318, the two sections of wbich are repeated. There are interesting asymrnetries of rhythm in the C minor slow movement that follows, with the second violin now following in imitation of the first. The Trio, wbich has followed the general pattern of a church sonata, with four movements aiternately slow and fast, ends with a vigorous Allegro.
The following Solo is in the form of a B rninor sonata for flute and continuo. Here the initial phrase of the cello is of importance in the opening Cantabile, to be imitated by the flute in contrapuntal play between the outer parts. The opening phrase of the following Allegro provides a framework for shifts of key and the movement is followed by a D major Dolce, in a gentler triple mette. The sonata, which has again followed the pattern of the church sonata in its alternation of slow and fast movements, ends with a 9/8 Allegro.
The key of E minor is restored in the Conclusion, re-establishing the mood of the Ouverture and moving to a short Largo before repeating its first section, an emphatic re-asserlÏon of the original key.
The second part of the Tafelmusik follows the same pattern as the first. The opening D major French Ouverture is scored for oboe, trumpet, strings and continuo and starts, very properly, with a slow introduction, marked Lentement, distingnished by its stately dotted rhythms. This is followed by a fugal section, marked Vite, and in triple mette, soon making use of a triple division of each beat in rhythmic contrast. The subject is not treated strictly and a place is found for contrast between the solo wind instruments and the strings and for an extended violin solo. The overture ends with a return to the music of the slow introduction, after which both sections are repeated. The first of the four very different Airs that follow is marked Tempo giusto. There is contrast of dynamics and of timbre between the wind instruments and the strings, before a series of solo passages. The movement frames a B minor section, introduced by the oboe and employing solo strings, while the trumpet-player draws breath. The second Air, marked Vivace, is in a jaunty 3/8 metre, its first solo passage entrusted to first and second violin, before a further excursion into B minor and a return to the music of the opening. The third of the Airs again provides conttasls of key, with a similar pattern of repetition. Marked Presto, it finds, in its more staid quadruple mette, a place for contrapuntal imitation. The last of the set, an Allegro, in the 12/8 mette of a gigue, explores the solo possibilities of the instruments with a similar contrast of key, before returning to the opening section.
The Orchestra of the Golden Age
- Anne Schuman
Cello - Robert Glenton
- Edwina Smith
Oboe I -
Bassoon - Christopher Robson
Horn I -
Trumpet - David Blackadder
Harpsichord - Bernard Robertson
Close the window