The unusual grouping of instruments in this work is indicative of Telemann’s fascination with sonority, which seems to have remained with him throughout his life. The Quartet in G minor for violin, oboe and viola da gamba exists in a manuscript in the Hessian State Library at Darmstadt. The four-movement structure is that of the Italian ‘sonata da chiesa’ into which Telemann injects both virtuosity and individuality. In each of the movements the viola da gamba is an equal partner with the oboe and violin; indeed, Telemann seems particularly to have concentrated his energy in creating a virtuoso role for this longest-surviving member of the viol family. That Telemann held this instrument in affection we cannot doubt, since he included two fine solo sonatas for it in his musical periodical, Der getreue Musicmeister
(1728/29), as well as composing a suite for viola da gamba and strings and two further sonatas in one of his most mature chamber music collections, the Essercizii Musici
. The delicately restrained Lento leads to a lively Italianate Vivace whose oboe ‘cantabile’ floats above the busier figures of violin and viola da gamba. The brief Adagio has a strong modulatory element as the parts dovetail into one another, whilst the Allegro finale, with its restless and virtuoso viola da gamba part, remains more firmly rooted in the tonic key.
from notes by Nicholas Anderson © 2002