Telemann’s 12 Fantasias for solo violin performed by Fabio Biondi

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COMPOSERS: Telemann
LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Telemann
WORKS: 12 Fantasias for solo violin
PERFORMER: Fabio Biondi (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 923406

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For sheer musical content no one would pretend that the 12 Fantasias Telemann published in mid 1730s Hamburg can match his friend JS Bach’s six violin sonatas and partitas; but judging by the dozen or so available recordings of the complete set, they’re popular with violinists. And with good reason. Aimed at the domestic market and consequently out to please, they revel in that effortless amalgam of styles that Telemann made his own – spanning Corellian grace to Polish folk music, Teutonic contrapuntal dexterity to the new-fangled ‘galant’. Like Andrew Manze – who recorded a fine account some two decades ago – Fabio Biondi is no retiring violet, and like Manze is keen to put the ‘fantasy’ into Fantasia. 

Biondi coaxes some ravishingly sumptuous colours to offset the invigorating brilliance of his 1767 Gagliano – the recorded sound at once supportive and spaciously sympathetic. He is a man for all Telemann’s seasons. The ‘galant’ haute couture of the E flat Fantasia’s opening Dolce is discharged in an Allegro a-quiver with twinkling vigour, while its Presto is impish glee incarnate. But the grave eloquence of the F minor’s Adagio, or the tender elaboration of the E minor’s opening introspection are no less convincing.

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Paul Riley