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At-A-Glance

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Length: c. 11 minutes

Orchestration: strings, continuo (2 harpsichords, lute), and solo violin

About this Piece

Telemann’s “Frogs” Concerto has become one of his more popular works, which might have surprised Telemann, who seems never to have tried to shine a spotlight on it. It has survived only in one manuscript now in a university library in Germany.

The Concerto has a lushness it owes to the sheer activity of its seven-part texture: four violin parts, an unusually adventurous viola part, and a cello part that is often independent of the basso continuo. The entrance of the frogs in the first movement – everyone but the continuo becomes a frog at some point – is striking enough, but equally remarkable is what they do once they arrive. The characteristic sequences and chains of suspensions are unmistakable: these frogs are playing Vivaldi, for a while at least.

The most cosmopolitan of composers, Telemann had his own Italian, French, and Polish styles, and could change styles mid-movement like a chameleon changing colors.

The slow movement features another version of the repeated-note frog effect and some passages for two violins over a walking bass that Corelli could have written. The last movement is a minuet, thus exiting both the animal world and the world of concertos, which normally do not contain minuets.