Concerto for Viola, strings and continuo in G major, TWV 51:G9 by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Georg Philipp Telemann (24 March [O.S. 14 March] 1681 – 25 June 1767) was a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes. After studying in Magdeburg, Zellerfeld, and Hildesheim, Telemann entered the University of Leipzig to study law, but eventually settled on a career in music. He held important positions in Leipzig, Sorau, Eisenach, and Frankfurt before settling in Hamburg in 1721, where he became musical director of that city's five main churches. While Telemann's career prospered, his personal life was always troubled: his first wife died only a few months after their marriage, and his second wife had extramarital affairs and accumulated a large gambling debt before leaving him.
Telemann is one of the most prolific composers in history (at least in terms of surviving oeuvre) and was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the leading German composers of the time—he was compared favourably both to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach, who made Telemann the godfather and namesake of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, and to George Frideric Handel, whom Telemann also knew personally. As part of his duties, he wrote a considerable amount of music for educating organists under his direction. This includes 48 chorale preludes and 20 small fugues (modal fugues) to accompany his chorale harmonizations for 500 hymns. His music incorporates French, Italian, and German national styles, and he was at times even influenced by Polish popular music. He remained at the forefront of all new musical tendencies, and his music stands as an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles. The Telemann Museum in Hamburg is dedicated to him.
Of Georg Philipp Telemann's surviving concertos, his Viola Concerto in G major, TWV 51:G9 is among his most famous, and still regularly performed today. It is the first known concerto for viola and was written circa 1716–1721. It consists of four movements:
Largo: A mellow movement with long notes. Written in 3/2, with many dotted quarter and eighth note slurs, and is in the key of G. Usually is played with vibrato. Some performers choose to add significant ornamentation to this very simple movement.
Allegro: Most played movement. Written in 4/4 and in the key of G. The melody begins with a distinctive syncopated figure which is also used independently later in the movement.
Andante: A slow, mellow movement in the relative minor and largely on the upper strings of the instrument.
Presto: A fast, exciting movement in the tonic key.
The fast movements contain very few slurs, and many performers editions include slurring suggestions, often indistinguishable from markings contained in the original. The performer is encouraged to invent a varied pattern of slurs which fits the shape of each phrase.
The slow movements both give the option of a cadenza.
A typical performance lasts about 14 minutes.