Where Telemann discovered folk
03/15/2023 by Tobias Stosiek
In 1705 Telemann traveled through Silesia and was amazed at the “barbaric beauty” of the music he discovered there. In their album “Beauté barbare”, Musiciens de Saint-Julien shows how the album was inspired. And try to recreate the way it looked in Silesian taverns. Endless fun!
Bildquelle: picture alliance / Zoonar | Jaroslav Sugarek
“Als der Hof sich ein halbes Jahr lang nach Plesse begab”, schreibt Georg Philipp Telemann in seiner Autobiografie (1740), “lernete ich so wohl daselbst, als in Krakau, die polnische Musik, in ihrer wahren barbarischen Schönheit kennen.”
Telemann entdeckt die schlesische Volksmusik …
So erinnert sich der Barockkomponist an seine Tage in Schlesien. Wir schreiben das Jahr 1705, und Telemann, der sich als Hofkapellmeister im schlesischen Sorau verdingt, reist hinein ins Land. Nach Pleß, dem heutigen Pszczyna, unten im Süden, dort wo Sudeten und Tatra-Gebirge aufeinandertreffen. Tiefe, grüne polnische Provinz, mit Aussicht auf schneebedeckte Gipfel. Damals wie heute. Und musikalisch gesehen – eine andere Welt, exotisch. Telemann ist begeistert davon, was ihm da in den Kneipen begegnet: Bier, Beats und Bockpfeiffen.
“[Die Tanzmusik] It consisted, in public taverns, of a fiddle tied to the waist, which was set a third higher than usual; From a Polish ram from a fifth trombone and from a rack, ”Telemann writes in his diary and adds:“ One should not believe what such wonderful ideas as whistleblowers or violinists possess. A shepherd can extract from them, in eight days, thoughts for a lifetime.”
…and turned into an ethnomusicologist
Francois Lazarevic | Image credit: Alpha Classics
And Telemann does, too. He’s really into mixing anyway, he’s an expert at cultural appropriation, moving elegantly between Italian and French styles. Now the Silesian bit has been added. “Subsequently, I wrote several major concertos and trios in this way, which I wore in Italian rock alternating with Adagi and Allegri,” he says, summing up his stay.
Musiciens de Saint-Julien has collected these Silesian-inspired works in their new album “Beauté barbare”. Great original sound set, looking for notes instead of picking them. The etymology remains speculative here, and it means to leave, not to commit. How could it sound, what Telemann filled in Silesian taverns, that is the question the ensemble asks about flutist François Lazarević. The program includes not only music by Baroque masters, but also Silesian folk music, music made by the gypsies on the threshold of the 18th century. Or it could be. Most of this was passed orally, so it is difficult to reconstruct. Fortunately, Telemann wrote some of the tunes himself. Musical ethnologist – two centuries before Bartók.
It’s not an exact reconstruction, says Lazarević, of what Telemann heard 300 years ago. More important to him is to “recreate the spirit and energy of these pieces of music”. And with folk instruments – cymbals, bagpipes, Lazarević plays among other things on the frula, a Serbian wooden flute.
This works very well. This woody sound, pulsation, energy. Some things are remotely reminiscent of the soundtrack to Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel”. Other things sound as if “The Velvet Underground” was involved, especially pieces that rely on drone sounds, on drones. All in all: endless fun!
Information about the album
Title: Burberry boots
Label: Alpha Classics
Artist: Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, François Lazarevitch
Music: Georg Philipp Telemann, Unknown/Traditional
It will be released digitally on March 17, 2023 and on CD on April 11
Broadcasting: “Allegro” on March 20 from 06:05 on BR-CLASSIC
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