TELEMANN: Musique de Table (Tafelmusik), Vol. 2 (Orchestra of the Golden Age) (Naxos: 8.553725)
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GeorgPhilipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Musique de table (Tafelmusik), Volume 2
Part I: Trio, Sonata and Conclusion
Part II: Ouverture
Georg Philipp Telemann was among the most distinguishedcomposers of his time, a rival to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach inreputation, and the certain preference of the Leipzig authorities for theposition of Cantor at the St Thomas Choir School, where Bach was eventuallyappointed in 1723, Telemann had, in 1721, taken the position of Cantor of theJohanneum in Hamburg, with musical responsibility for the five principalchurches of the city. His negotiations with Leipzig a year later proved themeans to secure better conditions in Hamburg, where he remained until his deathin 1767, He was succeeded there by his godson Cari Pbilipp Emanuel Bach, thesecond son of Johann Sebastian.
Born in Magdeburg in 1681, Telemann belonged to a familythat had long been connected with the Lutheran Church. His father was aclergyman and his mother the daughter of a clergyman, while his eider brotheralso took orders, a path that he too might have followed, had it not been forhis exceptional musical ability. As a cbild he showed some precocity, but itwas while he was a student at Leipzig University, wbich he entered in 1701,that a career in music became inevitable. He founded the University CollegiumMusicum that Bach was later to direct and in 1703 became musical director ofthe Leipzig Opera, composing some twenty operas himself. At the same time heinvolved his fellow-students in a great deal of public performance, to theannoyance of the Thomascantor, Bach's immediate predecessor, Kuhnau, who sawhis prerogative now endangered.
After Leipzig Telemann went on to become Kapellmeister toCount Erdmann II of Promnitz, a nobleman with a taste for French music, and in1708 moved to Eisenach, following this with a position as director of music tothe city of Frankfurt am Main in 1712. There were other offers of employmentelsewhere, but it was to Hamburg that he finally moved in 1721, to remain therefor the rest of his life.
As a composer Telemann was prolific, providing an enormousbody of work, both sacred and secular. This included 1043 church cantatas and46 settings of the Passions, one for each of the years he was in Hamburg. Hecontinued to involve himself in public performances of opera in Hamburg,arousing some opposition from the city council, his employers. Once he hadstrengthened his position he took additional responsibility as director of theHamburg Opera, while active in publishing and selling much of the music that hewrote. Four years Bach's senior, he outlived him by seventeen years, so that bythe time of his death Haydn was 35 and Mozart was eleven. His musical styledeveloped with the times, from the characteristically late Baroque to the new stylegalant exemplified by his godson.
Telemann's Musique de table was published in 1733, acollection of music divided into three Productions, each one containing anoverture with a suite for seven instruments, a quartet, a concerto for seveninstruments, a trio, a solo and a conclusion for seven instruments, andadvertised as offering a variety of instrumentation. On the title-page wherethis is announced Telemann declares himse!f to be Ma?«tre de Chapelle toTheir Highnesses the Duke of Saxe- Eisenach and the Margrave of Bayreuth andDirector of Music in Hamburg. Telemann had been appointed to the position of Kapellmeistervon Haus aus (visiting Kapellmeister) to the Duke of Saxe-Eisenach in 1717,with the dut y of providing music for the church, Tafel Music and the necessarymusic for solemn occasions. The appointment confirmed his earlier activity andresidence at Eisenach from 1708 until1712, when he took up his appointment inFrankfort. In Leipzig, Eisenach and Fraukfurt, as subsequently in Hamburg, hewas closely involved with the provision and performance of instrumental music.
In Hamburg he held regular weekly meetings of the Collegium Musicum, at firstin his house and then in the Drillhaus, reviving an institution comparable tothat which he had founded in Leipzig and worked with in Frankfurt, but whichbefore his arrivai had fallen into abeyance.
Telemann's wide reputation by 1733 is wituessed by the listof 206 subscribers to the Musique de table. 52 of these came from abroadand included among them musicians of great distinction, such as the Frenchflautist and composer Blavet and, from London, Mr. Hendel Docteur enMusique, while German subscribers ranged from members of the nobility toleading figures in the world of music. The work is in the French style. AsTelemann explained in a letter to the composer Graun, since there was nothingnew to be found in melody, so novelty must be sought in the harmony, an undulymodest assessment of his acbievement.
The Trio of the flfst Produktion of Musiquede table is in E flat major and starts with a movement marked Affettuoso.
This follows the usual pattern of a trio- sonata, with two violins andcontinuo. The second violin first proposes the subject, wbich is then imitateda fifth bigher by the flfst violin in a movernent that aiternates agreementbetween the two violins and antiphonal writing, as one responds to the other.
Two slow chords provide a link to a Vivace in 318, the two sections ofwbich are repeated. There are interesting asymrnetries of rhythm in the C minorslow movement that follows, with the second violin now following in imitationof the first. The Trio, wbich has followed the general pattern of achurch sonata, with four movements aiternately slow and fast, ends with avigorous Allegro.
The following Solo is in the form of a B rninorsonata for flute and continuo. Here the initial phrase of the cello is ofimportance in the opening Cantabile, to be imitated by the flute incontrapuntal play between the outer parts. The opening phrase of the following Allegroprovides a framework for shifts of key and the movement is followed by a Dmajor Dolce, in a gentler triple mette. The sonata, which has againfollowed the pattern of the church sonata in its alternation of slow and fastmovements, ends with a 9/8 Allegro.
The key of E minor is restored in the Conclusion, re-establishingthe mood of the Ouverture and moving to a short Largo beforerepeating its first section, an emphatic re-asserl?Åon of the original key.
The second part of the Tafelmusik follows the samepattern as the first. The opening D major French Ouverture is scored foroboe, trumpet, strings and continuo and starts, very properly, with a slowintroduction, marked Lentement, distingnished by its stately dottedrhythms. This is followed by a fugal section, marked Vite, and in triplemette, soon making use of a triple division of each beat in rhythmic contrast.
The subject is not treated strictly and a place is found for contrast betweenthe solo wind instruments and the strings and for an extended violin solo. Theoverture ends with a return to the music of the slow introduction, after whichboth sections are repeated. The first of the four very different Airs thatfollow is marked Tempo giusto. There is contrast of dynamics and oftimbre between the wind instruments and the strings, before a series of solopassages. The movement frames a B minor section, introduced by the oboe andemploying solo strings, while the trumpet-player draws breath. The second
Air, marked Vivace, is in a jaunty 3