Barbaric Beauty - 18th Century Dance Transcriptions
Georg Philipp Telemann

Barbaric Beauty - 18th Century Dance Transcriptions

Milos Valent / Jan Rokyta / Holland Baroque Society

CCS 31911 - 0723385319115

Information GreatBrittain Germany

It goes without saying that Telemann had a thorough command of the French and Italian styles. Countless ensembles, including ours, have played such pieces. In ‘Barbaric Beauty’ we follow a completely different path by focussing on Telemann’s Polish style. At least, this is how he described the pieces he wrote after discovering the music played along the Polish-Hungarian border. It was at the beginning of his career, when he was just 25 years old, that he heard sounds that were to inspire him throughout his life. Telemann writes in his autobiography:

“In 1704 I was appointed Chapelmaster in Sorau (Zary) by His Excellence Count Erdmann von Promnitz. When the Court resided for six months in Plesse and Krakow, I became acquainted with both Polish music and the music of the Hanaks. This in all its barbaric beauty. (The Hanaks are Czechs from Moravia) The music came from four different instruments: an extremely shrill violin, a Polish bagpipe, a bass trombone and a regal. On one occasion I even heard thirty-six bagpipes and eight violins together. One can hardly imagine the brilliant ideas the wind players and violinists brought forth during the improvisations at moments when the dancers were allowed to rest.” 

It is striking that Telemann was explicitly interested in the impro visations, mentioning the ‘brilliant ideas’ for which there was only occasion when the band could free itself of the tight metre and musical requirements of the dance. Telemann wrote with enthusiasm:
“If you were to write down all that was played there, after a week you would have enough ideas for the rest of your life. If you know how to turn it to your own advantage, there is so much good to be had from this music.” He also wrote: “Later I wrote large-scale concertos and trios in this style, which I subsequently gave an Italian look to by alternating Adagios and Allegros.”

  • 1
    Perpetuum Mobile
  • 2
    Les Janissaires
  • 3
  • 4
    Dance 322
  • 5
  • 6
    Two Dances
  • 7
  • 8
    Mezzetin en Turc