[Pt. V- Proj.1] – Listening Log- Georg Philipp Telemann – Concerto in E minor for Flute and Recorder, TWV 52:e1

Georg Philipp Telemann – Concerto in E minor for Flute and Recorder, TWV 52:e1 (1712-1721)

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681- 1767) was a composer from Leipzig and a contemporary of Bach. The two were in fact friends. Telemann was Bach’s senior and was experiencing a fair amount of success during Baroque times. He had become renowned for being able to adapt a number of styles and traditions into his music and borrowed from both French, Polish and popular music of the time. He was self-taught and played numerous instruments to a relatively high (although not virtuoso) level. His output was extremely prolific, and he wrote a huge array of both secular and sacred music and like Bach, was also a teacher. Although his work is not as celebrated as Bach’s he does deserve recognition and many of his piece are absolutely sublime.

One of these pieces which I really like is the Concerto in E minor for Flute and Recorder, TWV 52: e1, written around the years 1712 – 1721.

As the title suggests it is a Baroque Concerto for the flute and recorder in E minor. Around this time the traverse flute was replacing the recorder more and more, which was seen as outmoded and less agile, more medieval. Telemann was quick at adopting new ideas and trends and constantly forward looking and had started writing for flutes.

It is the combination of these two timbres of flute and recorder, the old and the new, which I find so beguiling. It does give the work the very unique flavour of looking towards a more classical sound whilst retaining a very folky pastoral element. The two sonorities blend beautifully, and spar off each other. Particularly so in the first 3/4 Largo movement, which consists of the two solo instruments taking turns carrying the melody- at first yearningly, slowly before moving on to arpeggiated figures and a ‘call and response’ section. All the while there’s a sparse but poignant underpinning played by strings and basso continuo which barely does more than plays the underlying chords and marks the beat.

The second movement is an Allegro in Common time which moves at a cheerful pace. It is a very bright and breezy section with both the string section and the two soloists playing busy figures.

The third movement is again a Largo, but in Common time and in E# Major played in a jovial and pleasantly lolling manner. The melodies are contrapuntal, again with interplay between the flute and recorder with only pizzicato for accompaniment save for the last few bars where the continuo plays some figures whilst the strings and flutes hold longer notes.

The fourth and final movement is a Presto and feels very much like a dance, perhaps based on a Polish dance as tended to be the case with Telemann. It starts quite forcefully with everything playing in unison and doubled at the octave before the first solo melody branches off playing a busy quaver figure. This is followed by some imitation which is nearly ’round’ like in its structure. All is then repeated at a louder dynamic and played more forcefully. There’re some melodic developments near the end before one last forceful, more accented, reiteration played at a faster tempo.

It is a beautiful and easy piece of music to enjoy.