Telemann, Georg Philipp: Sextet in G minor, TWV 44:33

Georg Philipp Telemann has been cursed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s ‘most prolific composer’. It is hard to imagine that this is true, and it is still harder to imagine that any pub brawls were averted by the inclusion of this dubious assertion in the world’s beeriest encyclopedia. However, in the spirit of the (also dubious-but-attractive) maxim that there is ‘no such thing as bad publicity’, we can at least see the shadow of Telemann’s fantastic facility with composition. He did not just write and write; he wrote complex and beautiful music with legendary ease. It is perhaps enough to say that his abilities were admired by his contemporary J.S. Bach, who was not easy to impress. The sonata for this evening’s concert belongs to the rich and serious tradition of the Sonata da Chiesa, or ‘church-sonata’, whose movements run slow-fast-slow-fast and contain learned fugal writing in the fast movements set against forcefully expressive writing in the slow. The sonata’s exceptional scoring for five voices, including an unusually independent cello line, gives Telemann rich soil for his ingeniously fluid musical exploration.

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