TELEMANN: Sonatas and Sonatinas – Heiko ter Schegget, recorder/ Mieneke van der Velden, viola da gamba/ Benny Aghassi, bassoon/ Zvi Meniker, harpsichord – MD&G Scene multichannel SACD (2+2+2) 905 1693, 67:31 [Distr. by E1] ****:
Telemann, being the prolific composer that he was, created a huge number of works for virtually every instrument in existence at the time, the recorder being no exception. This collection by the indomitable Heiko ter Schegget, student of Leo Meilink and Marion Verbruggen at the Utrecht Conservatory (diploma in 1981, and also the soloist on the complete set of Bach cantatas by Ton Koopman) uses two different recorders: a copy of the Italian style Jacob Denner (1681-1735) made by the artist, and an original French-style Johann Heytz on loan to Heiko ter Schegget from Frans Bruggen’s collection. The latter, being of French provenance, is tuned much lower and used only on the slower movements of some of the sonatas, as its action and age now make it difficult to play faster passages. For these a copy of the original was used. Nevertheless, as wind instruments from those times are usually presented to us only in copies these days on recordings, it is nice to hear what Telemann himself undoubtedly heard at one point, and to appreciate the dark and burnished sound that this instrument made.
As far as the sonatas and sonatinas go (the latter so-named because of brevity) this grouping is culled from three different sets of music that Telemann produced—the Nouvelles sonatines, Essercizii musici (musical exercises), and The Faithful Music Master, a subscription magazine that Telemann started in order to spread his music and to serve as a magazine-based tutorial on how to play different instruments. There are also some works that began as pieces for other instruments, namely the bassoon and viola or viola da gamba, reflecting the composer’s desire—and common practice—of spreading the word to as many instruments as possible.
Heiko ter Schegget and his cohorts play brilliantly on this recording, a lively mix that has pathos, wistfulness, joy, and high spirits all on one album, and sometimes in one sonata! The varied continuo was an inspired choice, making for an always-interesting combination of sounds that are caught to perfection in MD&G’s surround sound, reverberant and somewhat bright, but lovely nonetheless. This is a most stylish collection that also provides a very good introduction to the world of Telemann’s recorded music.
This Rolling Stones continue their 60+ year ascendancy with a worthwhile vinyl singles/e.p. collector’s set.