Telemann: Quartets and Trio Sonatas

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WORKS: Quartets and Trio Sonatas
PERFORMER: Ensemble Senario
In his 1752 essay on flute-playing (and much else), the composer Johann Joachim Quantz described the quartet for three instruments and continuo as ‘the real touchstone of the true contrapuntist’, and praised a set of quartets by his celebrated contemporary Telemann as ‘particularly beautiful models of this kind of music’.


On Channel Classics, the British group Florilegium offers four of Telemann’s most perfectly crafted quartets, from his first ‘Paris’ set of 1730 for flute, violin and viola da gamba (bass viol) above the continuo bass. There are two four-movement sonatas, a three-movement concerto, and a dance suite in the French style; and for further variety the quartets are interspersed with solo fantasias for violin, flute and harpsichord. The playing is stylish and highly polished, and responsive to Telemann’s constant regrouping of his forces within the quartets.


On another Dutch label, Globe, the Dutch Ensemble Senario presents four quartets and three trios, ringing the changes in solo instruments among recorder, oboe, violin and viola da gamba. Again the playing is highly accomplished and sensitive to colour and balance; and, although one or two quick movements are unnecessarily rushed, the disc is an attractive anthology of Telemann’s chamber music at its considerable best. Anthony Burton