During his several years as Kapellmeister at the court of Żary in Lower Lusatia, Georg Philipp Telemann also travelled to Krakow once as part of the entourage of his patron, Count Erdmann II of Promnitz where, in his own words, he discovered “Polish [...] music in its true, barbaric beauty”. Telemann, a pastor’s son who was born in Magdeburg, could scarcely believe his ears when he heard what Polish “bagpipers and violinists have for wonderful ideas when, as often as the dancers rest, they improvise”. To listen attentively to such musicians for a week – as Telemann summed it up – would provide a composer with musical ideas for a whole lifetime. And so his stay in Krakow remained a source of inspiration for Telemann for many years, even though the melodies and rhythms he collected in Poland were worked in the then leading style of Italian music.
The ensemble Il Suonar Parlante, founded by the gambist Vittorio Ghielmi who was born in Milan in 1968, has dedicated an exciting concert programme to this “mixed style” as it was called, which caused such a stir throughout Europe in Telemann’s lifetime and which owes a particular debt to the influence of West-Slavonic music on composers of other countries. Together with the recorder player Dorothee Oberlinger, violinists Alessandro Tampieri and Stano Palùch, plus the cimbalom player Marcel Comendant, Ghielmi and his ensemble perform music by Telemann and some of his contemporaries, including anonymous masters of the early 18th century whose works appeared in an anthology published in 1730.
However, this concert with Il Suonar Parlante not only transcends historical boundaries, but also extends – like Telemann’s example – beyond stylistic boundaries, especially those between so-called serious and light music. For in addition to the diverse folklore traditions which cast a spell on Telemann over 300 years ago, the programme of Il Suonar Parlante also reflects today’s lively forms of popular music, from jazz to Gipsy swing.