I should listen more often to Georg Philipp Telemann’s music. It is so rewarding. It is late at night and I feel the urge to write this post right now, right here. During a wonderful walk this afternoon, I experienced a deep feeling of serenity. That’s one element. Right now, I am wide awake and I need to write, something, anything before I go to sleep. That’s the other element. That full consciousness and the gratitude for this deep serenity are powerful emotions, filling me with energy, with joy, with self-confidence. Acknowledging these emotions was important to me, realizing: I am alive. This is me. I am grateful for that. It’s a feeling I often miss in my daily routine. And that’s where Telemann comes into play. Literally.
Telemann has written a piece I want to share with you as a way to celebrate the simple joy of feeling at peace with the world and at peace with myself: the Overture-suite in E-flat Major (TWV 55:Es5), released on a recording by Michael Schneider and the ensemble La Stagione Frankfurt. It has ten sections: an overture, a preludio and six proper movements. Telemann scored it for two oboes, bassoon, strings and basso continuo.
The overture-suite is a close cousin of the orchestral suite, however as Telemann’s work shows, this one requires a chamber music ensemble only. The scholar Siegbert Rampe writes that the overture-suite is representative of the French style, even if the genre has been invented by German composers. What links the genre to France is the structure of the overture in two or three parts, introduced by the French master composer Jean_Baptistes Lully around 1660. Telemann chose a two-part structure: the overture as such and the preludio.
Telemann started to write overture-suites first after he had been appointed to the Court of Eisenach. In 1709 he had become Kapellmeister of the Johann Wilhelm Duke of Sachsen-Eisenach, most likely for the reason that he had proved to be a flexible composer. He could write chamber music, orchestral works, secular and religious cantatas more or less out of the hat and in a substantial numbers. Quality did not suffer, Telemann seemed never to run out of ideas. Whether the Overture-Suite in E-flat Major goes back to this time or to a later moment in the composer’s career, seems to be unknown. Scholars are however certain that Telemann regularly say during his time in Eisenach Johann Sebastian Bach, who was working no far away in Weimar.
The overture in E-flat major is a beautiful, solemn piece, light in texture, profound in the emotions it stirs. I feel borne by this music, and I hope you feel the same way.
© Charles Thibo