Six Suites of Canonic Duets
By Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Adapted for trumpet by David Cooper

Biographical Info

Georg Philipp Telemann was a German composer, born in Magdeburg.  He was the most prolific composer in history and a contemporary of J.S.Bach, Vivaldi and a lifelong friend of G.F.Handel.  While presently Bach is generally considered the greater composer, Telemann was more widely renowned for his musical abilities during his lifetime.  Georg Philipp Telemann wrote these sonatas in 1735-36 to be played by two German Flutes or Two Violins.

Suggested Equipment

These duets can be played on either Bb or C trumpet.  I recorded the 1st trumpet on an Eclipse C trumpet and the 2nd on an Eclipse Bb.  I was hoping to create a slight timbrel difference between the two voices.

Practice/Performance Tips

Trumpet duets are a wonderful way of learning about and practicing ensemble playing.  This is music making in one of its purest forms and is an excellent way to learn how to listen.  We spend much of our time practicing on our own and becoming increasingly obsessed with one solitary line, forgetting that eventually we will need to play with others.  If both partners in a duet are listening carefully to one another, then it is possible to make a performance more spontaneous and interesting by adding unplanned changes in dynamics, tone color and tempi. Awareness is the key word here and while making sure that the line you are playing is accurate, it is also very important to have total understanding and knowledge of the other part, so that the end product is a combining and intertwining of two trumpets, rather than a heat of the battle duel. In the end, this discipline will be highly useful to you, from playing with just one other instrument, through to chamber ensembles and on to the incredible complexities of sitting a symphony orchestra, where the person you might be playing a duet with may well be on the other side of the stage.

The duets are to be played this way: the 2nd player begins at the first measure when the 1st player reaches the sign.  The 1st player ignores the fermata near the end and plays to the end of the movement.  The 2nd player ends the movement at the fermata.

I would like to briefly offer some thoughts to the Soave movement of Sonata 3: In this beautiful slow movement, it is important to balance the two voices carefully. Sometimes, one voice needs to be more prominent than the other and elsewhere, they both should be equal. For example in the play along version, in 7th and 8th measures, the second trumpet should be more of a solo voice than the first, fading away in bar 9 to become the accompaniment in bar 10. Then in bars 5 and 6, both parts should be more equal.

Soave Sonata III

The first movement in Sonata 2 is in my opinion, is the strongest stand-alone movement as something to be practiced alone.

Spirituoso Sonata II

Movement 3 of Sonata 5 is an amazing feat from a compositional standpoint.  The canon is two measures apart and goes through TWO modulations!  Listening to this as a duet it is very difficulty to tell which trumpet is which.  In my opinion this one sounds the least like a canon and most like a through-composed duet.

Scherzando Sonata V

Suggested Recordings

The CD included in the book is intended to serve two purposes.  Primarily, it is a listening reference – the listener can hear the complete duet and how the two parts fit together stylistically.  Also included on the CD are play-along recordings of the 1st trumpet part, allowing one player to practice or perform these duets.

You can buy this book/CD package at Amazon or a good music store.  You can also buy a PDF version of the book without the CD on this site under the tab “Shop”.  A blurb for the book follows:

Originally written for two flutes or recorders, David Cooper has edited and prepared these to be beautiful teaching or performance pieces for two trumpets.  While they are titled “suites”, they are organized more like sonatas in the fast/slow/faster movement format.  These duets are unique in that they are canonic; this might suggest simplicity, but these duets are anything but simplistic.

Many of the duets incorporate chromaticism while others even modulate.  Both players have an equal role in each piece as a duet, and the music sounds complete even with only one player.  This allows these pieces to be practiced as solo etudes and as duets.  A Performance/Accompaniment CD is included, allowing the player to hear a complete duet performance and also to play along as either trumpet 1 or 2.