Common Mistakes with performances of Telemann's F Dorian (F Minor) Sonata. Terry B. Ewell discusses the best edition, using accompaniments, and common mistakes by pianists. BDP #302.

<music: Telemann F Dorian Sonata, 3rd movement by Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, Eva Mengelkoch, harpsichord, and Frances Borowsky, cello.>

I have listened to many student performances of the Telemann F Dorian Sonata as an adjudicator for solo competitions in Maryland and West Virginia. Year after year I come across mistakes that are common to many performers. It will be helpful for you to avoid these mistakes as you study the Sonata.

The first and in some ways the most serious mistake is to read from a poor edition of the Sonata. There are many editions of the work available. Here, for instance, are some of the editions that I have in my personal library.

However, some of the editions create problems for the performer by adding dynamics, slurs, and even changing notes that were not in the original part. For instance, see this version from Russia that is available on The editor of the bassoon part is Valery Popov, one of the greatest bassoonists ever seen in Russia.

I have highlighted in yellow here some of the departures from the authoritative edition of the work. First off, there are four flats in the key signature instead of three. There is a forte put in the first measure that is not in the original edition.

Now, I do indeed follow that and I play forte, but I am alerting you to changes. The parentheses are put around the piano where Telemann does indicate that. In the next measure, measure 3, there are parentheses around the forte where again Telemann puts those in.

You will see that there are even changes of notes. A little lower down you will see that there is a C3 in the part when in the authoritative edition it is a C2 that is the low C on the instrument.

Now, the International Music Company edition of the Sonata takes even more liberties. Let’s just examine the first line.

The authoritative edition of the work can be found for free on Since the authoritative edition is free for anyone who has access to the Internet, there is no excuse today for any bassoonist to be performing the work without reference to the original composition. I discussed the unusual features of this authoritative edition in the last video. If you did not see it yet, please refer to it. There is a change in the key signature, there are added dashes on notes, there is a mf given, crescendos and diminuendos, added slurs; all of that. Now, as a performer you might indeed want to play those, but first you need to know exactly what Telemann wrote and then you can make the changes. So, it is quite important to find the authoritative work to read first.

If you looked at the last video, you will know that I have made reference to this. Here again is the website where you can find the work on IMSLP. This authoritative edition that was taken from a collection of works by Telemann. If you are seeking a modern edition of the work, you need to consult this.

The authoritative version of the work is also reprinted in the Amadeus edition. If you are seeking a modern version of the work, this is the only version that I recommend.

Practicing without an accompaniment is a common problem for many students today and particularly for this COVID-19 period.

This problem is quickly remedied by visiting my website The greatest variety of files are available in the MIDI format. As you can see there are older files by others and me and then in December in preparation for these videos, I created some new files. The mp3 files are here. You can just click and play them from the website. Notice that most of the movements here have accompaniments in multiple tempos. At the bottom there are links music at In the future I will include the links to these videos here as well.

Let’s select one of the newer files and listen to it. You can hear two instruments a cello and harpsichord. Although many students only have experience with a piano accompaniment this version is actually closer to Telemann’s intensions. The piano was not yet used as an accompaniment instrument at the time of the composition.
Since I have provided these files to you for free, there is no excuse not to practice with the accompaniments. This will help you to learn the piece and better understand the relationship between the solo part and the accompaniment. If you practice quite frequently with these files, then it will be an easy matter to rehearse with your live accompanist at a later time.

Accompanists, however, often do not understand how to perform Baroque keyboard parts.

Here is a page from the International Music Company edition of the work. Pianists are trained to bring out the melody by playing the top notes the loudest. Most pianists would then play these notes louder than the bass part. However, this is entirely incorrect. Let’s look at the authoritative version for this movement. Notice that only the bass notes are given for the keyboard player. The numbers indicate what would be in the right hand of the harpsichord. So, the entire right hand given in the piano here is not in the original music at all. Rather it is a realization of the music.

The real melody given by Telemann to the accompanist is in the left hand, the bass part. Normally this would be doubled by another instrument and thus louder. The upper notes on the harpsichord are quieter in any case. So, the accompanist should emphasize the bass notes and lightly play the upper notes.
For more information on this please see the video titled “Baroque Accompaniments on Piano” BDP #42.

The next video will introduce the subject of ornamentation and provide examples from the Telemann Sonata. Furthermore, I will point to some additional resources that can aid your performance of the Sonata.

<music: Telemann F Dorian Sonata, 4th movement by Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, Eva Mengelkoch, harpsichord, and Frances Borowsky, cello.>