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Telemann? He’s like Vivaldi with added carbs

January 21, 2018 by norman lebrecht

16 comments.


From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Never sampled Georg Philipp Telemann? It’s like Vivaldi with added carbs, or Bach at a gentle walking pace. That Telemann (1681-1767) was a significant composer is indisputable. Handel held him in high esteem and Bach named his son Carl Philipp Emanuel after his good friend. Both were happy to receive his scores and both expressed concern for his irregular personal life. Telemann’s music is well written, sits easily beneath the fingers and does not last too long. So why do I find it so hard to thrill to?….

Read on here.

And here.


Comments (16)

  1. Gerhard says:

    Yes, you don’t get Telemann, which is ok.
    Yes, you don’t get Telemann, which is ok.
    And writing this twice (or two and a half times as you did in your post) doesn’t make it more interesting.

    1. steven holloway says:

      Just so — writing that twice, and very little else to go with it. It did leave me wondering what instrument NL plays and why, given his views, he has bothered to play Telemann. He writes that the music “…sits easily beneath the fingers…”, and only an executant musician might make such an observation, most likely a keyboard player. And so, NL as clavichordist, perhaps, and not at all a mere critic? Sadly overlooked recordings with Micala Petri, David Munrow, Carl Dolmetsch, Johann Quantz…?

  2. Joe Shelby says:

    Telemann is why I gave up classical radio here in the states. I find him boring. Too predictable, even more than Haydn, for pieces I’ve never heard before.

    But here in the states, with most radio public supported, the tendency is to play more of this material over modern works, and not just because of the dislike of modern music by many. Rather it is strictly financial. They can play newly recorded Telemann for “free” – being public domain, there’s no royalties for broadcast radio.The audience gets something comfortable they’ve never heard before, the station gets to save money which they can’t with modern music still under publisher copyright.

    So Telemann and his contemporaries are played way out of proportion to their actual influence, and the stations become boring to someone like me.

    Rather depressing.

    1. Hilary says:

      Haydn…predicatable? depends how carefully you’re listening. Surely, he’s the opposite of that? Irregular phrase lengths to name just one thing.

      1. Sue says:

        Totally agree. Haydn is wonderful!!!

  3. Michael Endres says:

    I have always estimated Telemann’s elegant and spirited music very highly.
    There are some real jewels to be found in his ocean of work.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uY1XXgCPJs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t0MtqYikDc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtTu-1d31ls

  4. Hilary says:

    The trumpet concerto is gorgeous, and this aria: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y56-Z3Vfs0A although I concede it’s a tiny bit stiff compared to the best examples from Handel.

  5. Robert Holmén says:

    Not all are gems but his viola concerto and trumpet concert alone would be enough to put him among the immortals.

    1. Bruce says:

      His flute concerto in C (well actually recorder I guess, but I learned it on flute as a boy) has always been one of my favorite pieces.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdH-569x9xU

  6. Jean says:

    I do enjoy Telemann’s Musique de table – I do not remember any weak points here.

    1. Pianofortissimo says:

      It goes well with beef, French fries, and some red wine.

      1. Sue says:

        As Lord Byron said:

        “Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter, sermons and soda water the day after.”

    2. Wai kit leung says:

      I enjoy it very much too. So did Händel, who “borrowed” freely from it.

  7. Pianofortissimo says:

    Telemann composed most of his chamber music for amateurs to play at home and have fun together. The technical skills demanded by his music reflects his clients’ skills. Thus most of his chamber music sounds boring in the concert house. However, from his thousands of works you can find some very good pieces, that he composed by commission of more skilled amateurs or from professional musicians. Telemann composed most of his chamber music for amateurs to play at home and have fun together. The technical skills demanded by his music reflects his clients’ skills. Thus most of his chamber music sounds boring in the concert house. However, from his thousands of works you can find some very good pieces, that he composed by commission of more skilled amateurs or from professional musicians. I like very much his “Paris Quartets” (composed to be played by himself). I see his production as a goldmine where one has to carve tons of rock to find a good little stone. I like very much his “Paris Quartets” (composed to be played by himself).

    1. Pianofortissimo says:

      Something wrong with my copy-and-paste key. Sorry about that.

  8. HRB says:

    Telemann is the Chevy of Baroque music.


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