Telemann: Fantasias; Sonata for Viola da gamba

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Fantasias; Sonata for Viola da gamba
PERFORMER: Marion Verbruggen (recorder), Mary Springfels (viola da gamba)
Composing for an unaccompanied melodic instrument is an art that poses an enormous challenge, to which Telemann rises admirably. In his 12 Fantasias for solo flute, played here on the recorder by Marion Verbruggen, he combines German high-art with Polish folk music, Italian vivacity with French galanterie. Verbruggen characterises the many facets of his style with wonderful flair and caprice, soaring unfettered in the introductory flights of fantasy, effectively colouring the implied fugues, and romping through the Polish folk dances with the ‘barbaric beauty’ that Telemann so admired. The disc also includes a sonata for solo viola da gamba – Telemann here showing a retrospective interest in an instrument that had, as it were, played second fiddle to the fiddle for decades. But, unlike the recorder, the viol is capable of playing chords and counterpoint, and, in the spacious acoustic of this recording, it also creates its own resonant harmony. Mary Springfels offers a sensitive and accomplished performance, though without Verbruggen’s flamboyant panache. The main drawback to this disc is that, despite Telemann’s ingenuity, a little of this music goes a long way. Kate Bolton