About this Recording
8.553731 - TELEMANN: Musique de Table (Tafelmusik), Vol. 3
English 

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Musique de table (Tafelmusik), Volume 3
Part II (Continued): Quartet, Concerto, Trio, Sonata and Conclusion

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 Carl Philipp 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 elder brother also took orders, a path that he too might have followed, had it not been for his exceptional musical ability. As a child he showed some precocity but it was while he was a student at Leipzig University, which 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 stile 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 himself 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 duty 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 until 1712, when he took up his appointment in Frankfurt. In Leipzig, Eisenach and Frankfurt, 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 arrival had fallen into abeyance.

Telemann's wide reputation by 1733 is witnessed 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 achievement.

After the Ouverture to the second part of the Tafelmusik, a suite scored for oboe, trumpet, two violins, viola, cello and harpsichord, comes a Quartet, in D minor, scored for two flutes, a third part allocated to recorder or, an octave lower, to cello or bassoon, with cello or bassoon and harpsichord providing a basso continuo. In the present performance cello and bassoon alternate between the third part and the fourth, the continuo. The three melodic parts enter in imitation one of the other, with the two flutes soon joining together in mellifluous thirds. There is imitation again in a second entry of the subject, with changes in instrumentation, a procedure broadly followed as the movement continues, leading to the return of the opening subject and key and the trill that precedes the second movement, with its opening section for the two flutes. The bassoon part enters, providing a background to the answering figures of the flutes and entrusted with solo passages, accompanied by the basso continuo, in general contrast with the two upper parts. The Largo, an A minor siciliano, is started by the first flute, in traditional style. The Quartet ends with a D minor Allegro. Triplet rhythms are introduced with a change of key to D major, before the opening section of the movement is repeated.

The Concerto, in F major, is scored for three solo violins and an orchestral ensemble of violin, viola, cello and harpsichord. The opening Allegro at first has all the instruments presenting the ritornello, the material that is to return, punctuating solo entries from each of the three solo violins, in turn. The solo instruments enter in imitation of each other in the D minor Largo, its outer sections framing a central passage for the solo instruments, vestigially accompanied. The style of the Italian concerto continues in the final Vivace.

Telemann scores the E minor Trio for flute, oboe and bassoon and harpsichord continuo. The opening movement is marked Affettuoso, an indication that suggests both the gentle pace and feeling of the music. An Allegro follows, initiated by the oboe, while it is the flute that starts the E major third movement, marked Voice. The original key returns in the final Vivace.

The Solo Sonata is in A major, scored for violin and cello and harpsichord continuo. The lyrical opening Andante leads to a rhythmic Vivace, followed by an F sharp minor third movement, marked Cantabile and provided with full opportunity, in its ornamentation, for intensity of feeling. The final Allegro is in 12/8, the rhythm of a gigue, its two sections marked by concluding bars marked Adagio and in contrasted rhythm.

The Conclusion returns to the instrumentation of the Ouverture, oboe, trumpet, two violins and viola, with cello and harpsichord continuo. The energetic Allegro, informed by the technical mastery that Telemann had so immediately at his command, is repeated to frame a short central Adagio that offers brief harmonic contrast.

The Orchestra of the Golden Age
ln 1995 the Orchestra of the Golden Age made its critically acclaimed début recording of music by Henry Purcell with Naxos. This marked the rapid development of the ensemble, since its first concerts in 1992. Based in Manchester, it was formed by the cellist Robert Glenton to bring performance on original instruments to a wider audience and quickly established a reputation for itself beyond the boundaries of its home-town. The orchestra has recorded for the BBC and appeared at the Flanders Early Music Festival, part of a schedule that brings other appearances overseas. A generous award by the Arts Council of England National Lottery Arts Fund has made possible further acquisitions to augment the orchestra' s existing collection of original instruments.

Violin I - Anne Schuman
Violin II - Julia Bishop
Violin III - Joanna Parker

Cello - Robert Glenton

Flute I - Edwina Smith
Flute II - Felicity Bryson

Oboe I - Heather Foxwell
Oboe II - Heather Kershaw

Bassoon - Christopher Robson

Horn I - Roger Montgomery
Horn II - Gavin Edwards

Trumpet - David Blackadder

Harpsichord - Bernard Robertson

Robert Glenton
The cellist Robert Glenton is a musician of some versatility, his activities having ranged from leading, on trumpet, his own jazz band to the performance of charnber music at Windsor Castle, from playing with Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra to appearance as soloist in Elgar' s Cello Concerto. He won early distinction as a student cellist at the London Royal Academy of Music, subsequently working as a soloist and charnber-music player, with a period spent in New Zealand and Australia and in conducting-studies in Vienna. Since his return to Britain, he has devoted his time principally to original instrument performance and the creation of the Orchestra of the Golden Age.


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