Telemann: 12 Fantasias for solo violin, TWV 40: 14-25
While violinists have long relished the solo Fantasias Telemann published in 1735, the recording catalogue is currently inclined to favour their flutey cousins published two years earlier. Perhaps the long shadow of Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas has sidelined Telemann’s ‘delightful dozen’, leaving them forever relegated to the role of second fiddle by their lesser ambition. Many are shorter than a single Bach fuga, and with anything between three and six movements per Fantasia, Telemann strings miniatures together without aspiring to the towering organic entities created by Bach.
But to compare is to miss the point. With their more relaxed counterpoint and ‘galant’ tunefulness, Telemann’s Fantasias principally aim to please. Maya Magub proposes a halfway house between period- and modern-instrument performance. She uses a modern but appropriately lightweight bow, and mixes gut and steel strings to produce a rich yet bright sound, set a little way back in the resonantly warm recorded acoustic. Allegros are dispatched with punchy brilliance, the double-stopping negotiated with feisty flamboyance, and her ornamentation (as in the F minor’s Grave) is impeccably tasteful. Sometimes, though, Telemann’s playfulness can comes across a little earnestly; Andrew Manze (currently unavailable) and Rachel Podger (Channel) find more buoyancy and artful characterisation.