“What he has done in the styles of music,” wrote Johann Gottfried Walther in his Musicalisches Lexicon of 1732, “is sufficiently known everywhere. First it was the Polish, followed by the French, church, chamber and operatic style, and what is called the Italian style”. The man we are talking about here is Georg Philipp Telemann, in his lifetime one of the most famous German composers: a master of the “mixed taste” which he combined with the best of the then dominant French and Italian styles, and to which he then often added a pinch of Polish or Moravian spice. A prime example of this is the Grillen Symphonie in G major TWV 50: 1, “in the Welsh, French, English, Scottish and Polish style” (Telemann). The year 2017 marks the 250th anniversary of Telemann’s death – reason enough for the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Orchestra Academy to dedicate this historically informed concert to the great Baroque composer from Magdeburg.
The latter day Telemann rediscoverer Reinhard Goebel, founder – and for 33 years – director of the legendary Musica Antiqua Köln, has programmed the Grillen Symphony for this evening – plus the Concerto in C major, TWV 52: C1, which not by chance is known as the Concerto alla francese. The programme also includes Telemann’s Concerto in D major 54: D1, one of his stylistically most advanced concertos of the early 1730s before his Musique de table. With a rhythm richly differentiated by syncopations and triplets, closely placed contrasting motifs as well as a large-scale form, the work anticipates stylistic characteristics that eventually came together in the genre of Sinfonia Concertante half a century later. The final two items on the programme are the Concerto in F major TWV 51: F4 for violin, two flutes, two oboes, two horns, bassoons, timpani, strings and continuo, and the Sonata in E minor TWV 50: 4, which really is a genuine concerto in the “goût français”.