Rare is the month at present when Brilliant Classics does not release a new recording which delves further into the protean output of that most prolific of composers, Georg Philipp Telemann. In the year that he is remembered with particular enthusiasm, 250 years after his death in Hamburg, the breadth of his achievement can be appreciated more than ever, not least thanks to recent recordings of the recorder sonatas (BC95247), concertos and suites for flute (BC95147), double concertos with recorder (BC95249), oboe concertos (BC95379), and a reissue of the classic account of the complete Tafelmusik (BC92177), which is the modern counterpart to the Bruggen recording that brought Telemann’s name to so many listeners half a century ago.
Much of this music, it will be noted, concentrates on the composer’s fondness for wind instruments. Now Valerio Losito brings our attention to the accompanied sonatas. Rather as with Bach, when we think of Telemann and the violin, it is the unaccompanied music that first springs to mind, for the free and unbridled imagination and the evident pleasure it gives to violinists who perform and record the 12 fantasias. However (like Bach), Telemann produced a set of six sonatas for violin accompanied by harpsichord, with or without a separate basso continuo, and first published in 1715.
The sonatas were effectively his opus 1, published in 1715 at the comparatively late age of 24, and dedicated to the violin-playing Duke of Saxe-Weimar, from whom Telemann evidently wished to curry favour to judge from his long and obsequious preface. In just six sonatas may be found a remarkable diversity of elements: the Italianate style and Corelli-like fugues of Sonatas 1 and 5, echoes of Polish and ‘gypsy’ folk music in Sonatas 3 and 4, melodious arias reminiscent of Handel in sonata 3, and dance movements in the French style in Sonatas 2 and 6. Telemann’s genius allowed him to condense and reconcile in one volume parallel worlds that would appear to be mutually incompatible.
Valerio Losito’s diverse musical interests and accomplishments are reflected in his discography on Brilliant Classics, which centres on music of the Baroque. Violin Sonatas by Tessarini (BC94787) and Veracini (BC94822) testify to a scholarly hunger for the unusual and little-known, but he has also promoted the cause of the viola d’amore, with a mixed album of solo Baroque (BC94367), music by Domenico Scarlatti (BC94242) and the late-Romantic Austrian composer Robert Lach (BC95321).
The six “sonatas for violin solo, accompanied by the cembalo” were written by Telemann in Frankfurt in 1715. He had a high regard for them, dedicated them to the Prince Johann Ernst von Sachsen, and published them as his “Opera prima”, his first published work. The sonatas perfectly blend the French and Italian styles, their four movements modelled on the sonatas by Corelli and inspired by Vivaldi’s Op. 2. Fresh, melodious and brilliantly written they are full of unexpected turns and influences, notably of Polish folk music in certain movements.
Excellent performances in the Historically Informed Performance Practice, by Valerio Losito and Federico Del Sordo, who already successfully recorded sonatas by Veracini (BC94822), Tessarini (BC94787) and Domenico Scarlatti (BC94242) for Brilliant Classics. Scholarly written liner notes in English and Italian are included in the booklet, written by Valerio Losito.