Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy birthday, Georg Philip Telemann

Born on 14 March 1681, 329 years ago, Telemann was a friend of Handel and a contemporary of Bach and Vivaldi. Those were the days.

Most of what we hear of his music nowadays seems lightweight compared to Bach and Handel, but he was a bigger deal than Bach at the time and, as is the way of these things, he may well have a higher reputation in the future than he does now.

The chamber music is always engaging and tuneful, though it seldom seems more than that. That’s all we hear now, so perhaps there are some unknown big beasts of choral or orchestral pieces that would change our view. Who knew much of Bach between his death and Mendelssohn’s 1829 performance of the St Matthew Passion? Or much of Mahler between his death and Visconti’s Death in Venice, which so memorably made use of the Adagio of the Fifth Symphony?

Here is a quartet in G for flute, oboe, violin and cello, performed by members of the Belgian baroque ensemble Il Gardellino:

Monitor: Simon Patterson

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