Telemann Essercizii Musici: Trio and Solo Sonatas
Channel Classics CCS 40118 119:35 mins (2 discs)
Essercizii musici is perhaps the most impressive of Telemann’s chamber music collections. Until quite recently it was thought to date from c1739 but it is now known to have been printed in 1727 or 1728. The collection comprises solo sonatas with continuo, two suites for solo harpsichord, and 12 trio sonatas. The instruments are varied but specific to each work and include recorder, flute, oboe, violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord. In what I presume to be the first of two instalments, Florilegium presents 11 of the 24 pieces: seven of them are trios while the remaining four are continuo sonatas.
Florilegium has already shown its sensibility to and affection for Telemann’s music. These virtues are present here where the composer reveals his intuitive skill in accommodating each instrument with music best suited to its tonal character, and playing within the compass that reflects its strengths. If we are to believe Telemann himself, he had at least a fluent working knowledge of all the instruments featured in this richly rewarding collection. Quantz and other of his contemporaries especially admired his trios, and it is evident at once to our ears that they were not wrong. Difficult though it is to single out any particular work, I would commend the A major Trio for flute, obbligato harpsichord and continuo for the sensuous, caressing charm of its slow movements and for the light- hearted spirit of its two faster ones. I hasten to add, though, that it is a first among equals. The C minor Trio with its melancholy opening Largo provides an eloquent testimony to the expressive capabilities of both composer and performers.