March 2019 * Larry Palmer
Telemann Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord
Totally unfamiliar music by the most prolific baroque composer Georg Friedrich Telemann (1681-1767) fills a recent compact disc featuring violinist Dorian Komanoff Bandy and harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa (Whaling City Sound, WCS 108). Originally published in Frankfort-am-Main in 1715, these six four-movement works, each comprising alternating slow-fast-slow-fast movements, were composed with the burgeoning amateur house music musician in mind. A seventh sonata of similar style and length that has survived only in the composer's manuscript preserved in the Dresden State Library receives its world premiere recording to fill ou the program.
In disc and numerical order the sonatas are in G Minor, D Major, B Minor, G Major, A Minor, and A Major; the extra seventh sonata is in F-sharp Minor. Each composition bears the TWV (Telemann Werke Verzeichnis ["work catalogue"] number 41, followed by an indication of its individual key (in German style: g, D, h, G, a A, fis).
I had met the harpsichordist during a long-ago Boston Early Music Festival visit. He has recently relocated to the warmer climes of Florida where (now Dr. ) Paul Cienniwa is music director of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Delray. Thus it was not difficult to locate an email address for this fine artist. I especially wanted to learn who had built the harpsichord used for this recording and to ascertain whether the works were being played from a realized score or from the more probably two-line original engraving. It turned out to be the latter, which made my admiration for such beautiful collaborative musicianship ascend even several units higher. Especially an elegant solo harpsichord introduction to the "Cantabile" of the B-minor Sonata had moved me deeply, and I appreciate the sensitive musical realization of the figured bass throughout. It also pleased me that Cienniwa lists among his musical mentors Jerome Butera, a longtime editor of The Diapason and currently the magazine's sales director.) File that in your "Small World" folder, please.)
The fine-sounding instrument, it turned out, is a sing-manual 2 x 8 example inspired by the unique 181 Vaudry harpsichord (and instrument that our readers encountered briefly last month through the illustration for Jane Clark's article on François Couperin). It was built in 2008 by Kevin Spindler. For those who might wish to acquire this music, violinist Bandy suggests IMSLP for downloading (https://imslp.org), or even better, a facsimile of the 1715 edition published by Anne Fuzeau Productions. With such a fine example of the collaborative harpsichord line for consultation, on might not be so reluctant to realize that figured bass.