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It wasn't until 1936 that Eulenburg published an edition of Telemann's 'Suite in A minor for flute and string orchestra'. This quickly became the composer's most widely performed composition. Telemann treats us to a mixture of movements that have French, Italian, and German elements. What set him further apart from his contemporaries was his use of elements of 'Polish and Moravian [folk] music in their true barbaric beauty' (autobiography, 1740), which he had heard during his stint as Kapellmeister in Sorau in 1705-08. Telemann was also the pioneer of a mixed type of work which the critic Johann Adolf Scheibe called Concertouverture (concerto-suite) – a suite with parts for one or more concertante instruments (in our case, of course, the recorder) in addition to the customary strings.
The overture to the A minor suite commences in that French manner invented by Jean-Baptiste Lully, all courtly dotted notes and ornaments played by the recorder and strings together, then a fast section in four-part counterpoint. The texture is simplified to usher in the Italianate recorder, whose three concerto-like solo sections become longer and more impassioned. Les Plaisirs (the pleasures) is a capricious French dance movement with a hint of Polish folk music. After a first part for strings, the recorder has the trio accompanied by basso continuo alone. Then follows an 'air in the Italian style', like the slow movement of some magnificent concerto. The biggest surprise is the sudden transformation of the movement into an Allegro, with passage work reminiscent of Telemann's recorder sonatas over a simple accompaniment. The first section then returns da capo. The ensuing Menuet for the strings has an angular melody and an alternation of emphasis between first and second beats. The recorder dominates the trio, which has the character of a double, or ornamental variation, although the harmonic scheme is altered, and the style again owes as much to Poland as to France or Italy. The next movement, Réjouissance, rejoices with lively snippets passed between strings and soloist as well as contrasting passage work for the recorder. A pair of sprightly Passepieds follows the pattern of the Menuets heard earlier: a first dance played by the strings alone, then a trio for the recorder, this time accompanied by the basso continuo and, for the only time in the work, switching to the parallel major key (A major). The last movement is a Polonaise, a Polish dance far removed from the civilized examples of Chopin over a century later. The folk style comes to the fore in the snapping rhythms of the strings and the recorder's repeated notes and winding, slurred groups of semiquavers, like some inspired tavern fiddler warming to his task. from notes by David Lasocki © 2004
It is quite a mystery as to the origins of the Bach Italian cantata. Someone may have commissioned it or was an underwriter for it. The work may a farewell cantata for the Thomas School director, Johann Mathias Gesner, who in four years (1730-34) completely reformed the curriculum, remodeled and expanded the facilities, and modernized the operation. If this is the case the performance could have been at Zimmermann's Coffee House in Leipzig where Bach and others often performed. The Italian style was popular there. The suggested scholar departures are Thomas School rector Gesner, on October 4, 1734, to his posting in Ansbach, or Bach student and music/science scholar Lorenz Christoph Mizler (1711-78), who also had Ansbach connections. He moved to Wittenberg in 1735 to study law and medicine returning to Leipzig in 1736 where he established his learned society. He eventually moved to Poland.
Christoph Wolff writes "The poem of an unknown, probably German writer, makes use of the work of Guarini (1538-1612) and Metastasio (1698-1782). Although the occasion of the first performance is not known, the text implies that it is a farewell cantata for a young scholar returning to his native Ansbach. Consequently the work belongs perhaps in the orbit of the Collegium Musicum and Leipzig University. The work opens with an extensive sinfonia followed by movements which set the soprano against a solo transverse flute. No original sources of the composition survive but for a copy from the possession of J.N. Forkel (c. 1800). Forkel may have come to the copy through Bach's son W.F. or publisher Breitkopf in Leipzig. Breitkopf advertised copies for sale of some works of J.S. Bach.
The opening sinfonia with its use of a virtuoso flutist is very likely to have been adapted or adopted from a lost concerto and its many similarities to the Orchestral Suite no 2. Information from the Bach Cantata website.
Carolina Pro Musica's Eddie Ferrell is featured recorder soloist on the Telemann and also soloist on the traverso for Bach Cantata # 209. Vocal soloist is soprano Rebecca Miller Saunders. The ensemble is joined by Baroque strings John Pruett. Tom LaJoie, violins; Kirsten Allen. viola; Henry Trexler, double bass. Filling out the ensemble are Carolina Pro Musica's Holly Wright Maurer, bass viol and Karen Hite Jacob. harpsichord.
Supplied by Karen Hite Jacob