Giovanni Antonini & Il Giardino Armonico - Telemann - BBC Music Magazine
Telemann’s Ouverture or Suite in A minor has long been among his best-loved and most widely known orchestral works. Inasmuch as it explores comprehensively the expressive and technical range of the treble recorder it has an affinity with JS Bach’s B minor Suite for flute and strings. Telemann played lots of instruments including the recorder, and it shows, for in each of the Suite’s eight movements he reveals all the subtleties of which it is capable. Giovanni Antonini proves an athletic and affectionate communicator of this sophisticated music, enlivening the dances with well-judged tempos, cogent articulation and a light tread that would grace any dance floor. His decision to omit the repeat of the allegro section of the French overture itself is open to question but few readers, I suspect, will hold it against him. The remaining pieces in Antonini’s programme are comparably diverting. None of them is mainstream Telemann though all have been previously recorded. Particularly striking is the Sonata in F major or, to all intents and purposes concerto for alto and bass (tenor has been substituted here) chalumeaux, unison violins and continuo. The chalumeau, a single reed precursor of the clarinet, was yet another instrument in which Telemann claimed proficiency. Why should we doubt him when he writes for them with such playful charm and imagination? Here and throughout in varying configurations the soloists are stylishly supported by Il Giardino Armonico. Only very occasionally did I feel that their ornaments were a little contrived and therefore intrusive.