Klassik Heute 10/10/10, April 2013.
Throughout a long and extremely productive career, Georg Philipp Telemann harboured a great affection for the overture-suite, consisting of a French overture followed by a number of dances and character movements. Tempering the rigid model inherited from the French tradition with his own rich powers of invention and playfulness, he remained true to the form long after it had gone out of fashion.
One variant of which he was particularly fond was the ouverture pittoresque, which offered a welcome opportunity to revel in tone-painting and characterization: ‘Nobody paints with stronger brushstrokes than him’ was the verdict by one of Telemann’s contemporaries. Instances here are the so-called ‘Völker-Ouvertüre’ where we are introduced to different nationalities (Turks, Swiss and Muscovites), and the Ouverture, jointes d'une Suite tragi-comique, in which Telemann depicts various ailments (hypochondria and gout being two of them) and their possible remedies. Another early influence was folk music, and specifically the Polish folk music of the Cracow region, where Telemann spent time in his youth, as Hofkapellmeister to Count Erdmann von Promnitz. In an early example of cross over, he experimented with clothing this music of a ‘true barbaric beauty’ in ‘Italian dress’. One result was the two ‘Polish’ concertos for strings, in which Telemann’s passion for Polish music can be felt from the very first note. Dignified, festive polonoises with chromatically tinged melodic twists begin both concertos, while the fast movements include many examples of Polish colours, such as drone-like effects reminiscent of the dudy, or Polish bagpipes.
With a number of highly praised recordings, the Polish band Arte dei Suonatori is firmly established as a leading ensemble performing on authentic instruments. Among the group’s recordings for BIS is a previous collaboration with Martin Gester: the set of Handel's Concerti grossi, Op.6, which was selected as ‘Orchestral Disc of the Month’ in BBC Music Magazine, and described as ‘a model of authentic Handel performance’ in the German early music magazine Toccata.
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