Telemann: Complete Recorder Sonatas
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TELEMANN Sonatas for Recorder and Basso Continuo: in F, TWV 41:F1 ; in B?, TWV 41:B3 ; in f, TWV 41:f1; in C, TWV 41:C2; in d, TWV 41:d4 ; in C, TWV 41:C5 • Michala Petri (rcr); Anthony Newman (hpd) • OUR RECORDINGS 8.226909 (44:40)
Don’t be fooled by the label, OUR Recordings; the numbering system and the distribution shows that it is part of the vast and expanding Naxos empire. That being said, it is barely a small province therein, for there is a fair amount of material that has come out under their auspices. When one can bag a renowned recorder virtuoso such as Michaela Petri, then one can expect good things.
It is an oddity, however, that as prolific a composer as Telemann was, he paid rather scanter attention in his huge output of solo chamber works to the humble recorder. To be sure, solos for the instrument abound in the trio sonatas, concertos, and other ensemble pieces, but it seems that he preferred the traverse in terms of sound and musical possibilities. Actual sonatas for recorder and continuo, where they are not part of the practice of generic woodwind pieces, are few. Apparently only six such beasts have survived (though of course one might suggest that there are others out there waiting to be found and identified). These are four from the collection Der getreue Musik-Meister from about 1728 or 1729, and a further pair from the Essercizii Musici , a rather comprehensive gathering of sundry chamber works (sonatas and trios) that Telemann published in 1740. Given that they are literally buried within these compendiums, and since these may be of a more pedagogical focus, it is no wonder that they have emerged only piecemeal from the Telemann shadows.
The two works from the 1740s, in D Minor (TWV 41:d4) and C Major (TWV 41:C5), reflect the composer’s attempts to inculcate himself into the newly emerging galant style, even though the former has the four-movement format of his Baroque chamber works and indeed sounds like it dates from a couple of decades earlier. Here the opening arioso is suitable plaintive, while the following Allegro spins out the small motives like beams of light, dimming ever so slightly when Telemann inserts a sudden minor key harmony. The short Grave could have been written by Vivaldi. The latter is a more advanced three-movement work, though the opening is a gentle arioso that appears floating above a pedal tone. The second is a Lamento, and the third is a lively Hornpipe, a type of music of which Telemann, living in the port city of Hamburg, was fond. The other sonatas seem to push the boundaries of the instrument in terms of flexibility and range, indicating that whoever was supposed to play them really needed to know the instrument. There is pathos, such as the opening movement of the F-Minor Sonata (TWV 41:f1), with its plaintive calls, or the very Bachian second slow movement of the B?-Major Sonata (TWV 41:B3) with its meandering line that takes awhile to get to a cadence. The second movements are generally tour de forces with regards to recorder virtuosity, and in places such as jaunty opening of the F-Major Sonata (TWV 41:F1), which seems to rush off with display, or the second movement of the other C-Major Sonata (TWV 41:C2) runs like a perpetual motion machine with just a hint of hornpipe in the flashy theme.
Michaela Petri’s playing is, as always, superb. Her technical ability to change registers so that one thinks there is another instrument in the background is astounding, as always, and she phrases her slower movements to bring out the lingering emotion of the often floating lines. Her accompanist, Anthony Newman, also no stranger to Telemann, is the perfect partner, his realizations keeping pace with but never overshadowing Petri. I do think I detect a cello also going along with the line, but alas no name is mentioned in the notes. In short, this is a terrific disc and one every Baroque music collector ought to have in their collection. It demonstrates that her reputation as one if not the premiere recorder player is well-deserved.
FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
Catalog Number: 8226909
Label: OUR Recordings
Composer: Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer: Anthony Newman, Michala Petri