The Telemann Experiment (from Beyond The Notes)


Original recording arrangement superseded by:
Version for small orchestra (2010) solo-str.

Version for full orchestra (2011) (cym, BD, tamb., SD, xyl)-str.(min.14, 12, 10, 8, 6)

Group: kbds (pf., hsc, synth), gtr, bass, drums

Jon Lord’s programme note:
While on tour in Germany sometime in the late 80s, I bought a recording by Musica Antica of Cologne, of the Tafel Musik of Georg Philip Telemann, a German composer, born Magdeburg 1681, died Hamburg 1767, a contemporary of Bach, Godfather to one of his children, and some say unjustly overshadowed by him. So there.

I discovered, among the many delights on this recording, a wonderfully infectious piece called “Rejouissance” (‘Rejoicing’), music I have loved and wanted to use ever since, but for which I could never find a suitable home; probably much to Herr Telemann’s relief. Then, on March 20th of this year [2004], I was back in Trondheim, Norway, for the first performance of a piece I’d written for string orchestra called Disguises, to be played by the Trondheim Soloists. Also on the programme was a suite of music for strings and Keyed Fiddle, a wonderful, unusual and very old instrument – developed probably in Northern Germany as the Nickel Harfe, or Schluesselharfe, during the 14th century, most likely from the Hurdy-Gurdy – played by the young Swedish folk musician Emilia Amper, who calls it a Nyckel Harpe.

Right. Still with me? Anyway, one of the movements which made me prick up my ears (please do NOT try this at home unless very experienced) was a Swedish “Polska”, which, although slightly slower, had the same ‘stamping’ rhythm as the Telemann piece. Eureka! Back in England, I quickly got to work on my own “Polska” and then the tricky but fun experiment of marrying it to Telemann’s ‘Rejouissance’.

At the top of the manuscript paper I wrote “The Telemann Experiment” and the title has stuck. When Emilia agreed to come to Bonn to add her instrument to the mixture, I asked her to start the track alone. She played an extract from a ‘Polska’ which is maybe, she says, by the 18th century Swede Juringius – a scholar, organist and priest, from Kalmar in south-eastern Sweden, where Emilia has spent most of her life. The snappy but not entirely surprising title is “Polska from Kolmar (After Juringius)”.
I’m often asked to describe the kind of music I play: “What do you call it”, they cry. Well, here we have a confluence of Swedish folk music, German Baroque music, Jazz-rock, and orchestral display, a medieval instrument, piano, electric instruments, and percussion dancing along with strings and woodwind and I don’t think you can put a label on that. To quote Ian Gillan, who says this quite often: “my point exactly.”

A note by Paul Mann:
Jon’s note above refers to the version which appears on the album Beyond the Notes. He subsequently made two orchestral arrangements of The Telemann Experiment, further enriching the eclectic brew he so vividly describes by adding the full resources of the modern symphony orchestra.

It is a breathtaking display of both compositional and instrumental virtuosity, and all the more precious for being one of the rare pieces of Jon’s from this period to display unalloyed vivacity and wild, uncomplicated joyfulness.

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