The Kleine Kammermusik of Georg Philipp Telemann was never set in stone. Well, perhaps etched in metal for publishing, but you know what I mean. As Telemann conceived them, these six partitas were simple for a melodic instrument with basso continuo. In 1716, such collections were common for amateur and professional musicians.
Telemann’s melodies could be performed either with a violin, transverse flute, or oboe. The basso continuo part (keyboard instrument plus cello) could also be played with just a harpsichord. Documentation suggests that Telemann authorized the arrangement of these works for solo harpsichord. And Andrea Coen has done just that.
In Coen’s capable hands (both as an arranger and a performer), these partitas sound convincing as solo harpsichord works. Coen’s arrangements are clear and transparent. The melodic line is prominent, but the bass line and harmonies are there, too — providing just the right amount of support.
Coen plays on a 2015 Guilio Fratini copy of a double-manual harpsichord of the period. It’s an exceptional instrument. The action is virtually silent. I heard the music with almost no distracting mechanical noise. That added greatly to my enjoyment of these works.
Each partita features a prelude, followed by six short dance movements. In the Baroque period, each key had a distinctive character (in part because of Pythagorian tuning). Coen casts each partita in the inherent character of its key. So, for example, the G major partita straight-forward lyrical quality throughout its movements, while the G minor partita is unsettled and nervous.
This album can be appreciated on many different levels: Coen’s interpretations, Telemann’s choice of keys; Teleman’s sequencing of the partitas. And of course, the quality of the music itself. Highly recommended.
Georg Philipp Telemann: Die Kleine Kammermusik
Andrea Coen, harpsichord
Brilliant Classics 95683