Telemann: Sonatas, Sonatinas and Fantasias

Genevieve Lacey, Jane Gower, Lars Ulrik Mortensen

Telemann: Sonatas, Sonatinas and Fantasias
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Telemann: Sonatas, Sonatinas and Fantasias

Genevieve Lacey, Jane Gower, Lars Ulrik Mortensen

Three of the finest baroque musicians performing today celebrate the music of one of the most prolific - and most neglected - composers.


George Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) was a friend of both JS Bach and Handel, and in their lifetime was considered to be the finest composer of the three. He was at the forefront of new stylistic developments, drawing on influences across Europe - including French, Italian and Polish music - and moving music forward from the baroque to the classical era.

Whilst his 1,000-plus church cantatas brought Telemann to eighteenth-century ears, it was in his chamber music that his invention and wit could flourish. He wrote sets of Fantasias for solo instruments - on this album we hear two for harpsichord and one for flute - and stunning Sonatas and Sonatinas for bassoon and recorder, accompanied for harpsichord.

Telemann shaped the course of music, but also of the music industry. He was one of the first composers to publish his own music, and therefore to assert his authorial ownership of its ‘intellectual property'. All of these Sonatas, Sonatinas and Fantasias were published in the 1730s - in the short term, at least, as part of a money-making venture intended to mitigate his wife’s gambling debts!

Genevieve Lacey, Jane Gower and Lars Ulrik Mortensen are close musical friends and collaborators. Lacey is an ARIA-winning virtuoso whose repertoire spans centuries, and has performed at venues from the BBC Proms to a prison in remote Western Australia; her fellow Australian Jane Gower is one of the world’s most sought after bassoonists, and a frequent collaborator with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Anima Eterna. Lars Ulrik Mortensen is a harpsichordist, conductor and teacher who specialises in period instruments. He is Artistic Director of Concerto Copenhagen and the European Union Baroque Orchestra.

Track Listing:

1-3.Sonata in C major for recorder and basso continuo, TWV 41:C5
4-7.Sonatina in C minor for bassoon and basso continuo, TWV 41:c2
8-10.Fantasia in D major for harpsichord, TWV 33:1
11-13.Sonata in F major for recorder and basso continuo, TWV 41:F2
14-17.Sonata in F minor for recorder/bassoon and basso continuo, TWV 41:f1
18-21.Fantasia in E major for recorder, TWV 40:10
22-25.Sonatina in A minor for bassoon and basso continuo, TWV 41:a
26-28.Fantasia in G minor for harpsichord, TWV
29-32.Sonata in D minor for recorder and basso continuo, TWV 41:d

 

Review

When I listen to Genevieve Lacey perform I often forget something, I get distracted by her lovely turn of phrase, her clean and bright sound, and those fast, pattering fingers making light of difficult ornamentations. I forget that the recorder is really, really hard to play and even more difficult to play well. Then when you add in the virtuosity of Telemann, you’ve got an astounding recording that is deceptively simple until you really think about it. Then throw in some baroque bassoon to give a fabulous timbre contrast, and this recording shows that, although Australia might not have been founded when this music was written, we can still hold our own in the performance of these works.

Telemann was feted in his day for his forward thinking style of composition, and competition was fierce to hire him as a musician and composer. The famous story is that when Telemann turned down a job with St Thomas Church in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach was offered it, as Bach was considered a far inferior musician to the might and beauty that was Telemann. Nowadays the general consensus is that Bach was the better composer; however this does not detract from Telemann’s style or clever compositions.

Lacey brings all of her prowess as a virtuosic recorder player and all of the breadth and depth of her musical knowledge to this delightful recording. I don’t want to say much about Jane Gower, because I think her autobiographical statement on the Concerto Copenhagen website says it all and you should discover her music for yourself. I never knew that the baroque bassoon could play that well in tune, but listening to Gower, again, you take it for granted.


Kate Rockstrom is a friend of Readings.

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