Telemann, the Artisan

Have you ever looked at a beautiful piece of furniture, let’s say an armoire, from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s & admired all the craftsmanship that went into making it? They didn’t have Ikea’s or Home Depots or Bob’s Discount Furniture Stores back then, so chances are that it had been laboriously hand made by a highly skilled artisan who was also obviously meticulous in paying attention to all the fine detail—that’s why it’s still around, so beautiful, & even still useable, almost 150 years later.


This piece of music is similar in theory to that idea—it’s a sort of ‘musical armoire’ if you will, in that it was also meticulously constructed by a master craftsman (& artist)—only over a 100 years even before that! Its quality is plain but superb (saying a lot within only 2 parts—unaccompanied, & without the assistance of any computerized loops, backing tracks, or electronic enhancements, etc) & it is musically ‘in square’ (well balanced interestingly between the parts); it has also withstood the test of time. And perhaps the most amazing part of all—it is only one mere example of the almost endless number of high quality works that were created at an unrelenting pace by Georg Philipp Telemann throughout his entire 87 year lifetime.



Direct link to video on Youtube

 

Telemann (1681 – 1767) is one of the most prolific composers in music history; he left more works than those of Bach & Handel combined. In fact, many of the major composers (including Bach & Handel—whom Telemann knew personally) even bought & studied Telemann’s published works. His music is also an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles—during which Telemann’s own compositional style remained contrapuntally & harmonically complex (& thus interesting—as evidenced in this piece as well).

 

While presently Bach is generally considered the greater composer, Telemann was more widely renowned for his musical abilities during his lifetime, & very highly regarded by his colleagues & critics alike.


But today in modern times, he is often overlooked & underappreciated in both popularity & significance. For that reason, I have chosen to perform & record this beautiful piece of his music: the Vivace (4th movement) taken from Telemann’s Sonata #4 in E minor for 2 flutes, violins or other like instruments (transcribed for trumpet). There are actually 6 full Sonatas in this suite of music, which were first published in 1727. Written in the form of the sonata da chiesa (or church sonata), the pieces feature the dialogue of 2 players who imitate each other, exchange musical ideas, & take turns in taking the lead.


There is also much room for ad lib—which I readily took advantage of, & the tempo in which I chose to perform it is more of a fast ‘Allegro’ rather than a full blown ‘Vivace’; I did this (intentionally played it slightly slower) for several reasons: it allowed time to add the ornamentations, & it also gives time for the listener to be able to better appreciate what is all going on—polyphony! Trust me, I know that my recording here is far from perfect; but I did play each part (one right after the other) straight through in 1 take each & without any overdubs or punch in corrections. I also did not use a metronome as I wished to capture a more ‘human feel’—something that is often lacking in much of today’s ‘music’. I also slightly panned (separated) the parts—so that the listener will be able to hear each part individually & yet still appreciate their interplay as one complete single musical idea. For best results, try using headphones.


For another reference of this piece, see Angele Dubeau’s Analekta recording (FL 2 3085) of the “Telemann Sonatas for two violins”. It is currently one of only the few still published recordings that I am aware of regarding this work. Also, much of the above information that I provided here was taken from its liner notes, which were written by Francois Filiatrault (translation: Patricia Abbott), as well as from Wikipedia facts on Telemann. Another quote was taken from an article about Telemann’s Canonic Duets posted on allthingstrumpet.com written by David Cooper.


Thanks for listening & hope you enjoy!—Peter J Blume, trumpeter (2011)

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