TELEMANN 12 Fantasias for Solo Violin
Telemann’s solo violin music is never likely to challenge Bach’s for popularity – not these days, anyway. Back in his own time, even Telemann may not have been aware of his friend’s Sonatas and Partitas, but had he been so he would have surely have been right in expecting his own 12 Fantasias for ‘violino senza basso’ to have wider public appeal. Published in 1735, they are not only easier to play but have a friendlier personality and more readily graspable movement structures. As always with Telemann, however, this does not mean careless writing or lack of imagination. Telemann seems to have taken the word ‘fantasia’ as an excuse for variety, and the forms here include Corellian concerto-style movements with lightly worn multiple-stopped counterpoint, flashing prestos, graceful galanteries and boisterous folk dances, all without a single misplaced step.
Fabio Biondi’s classy playing ensures that they are attractive listening. Clear, sweet-toned and generously bowed, it does not over-complicate matters with fussy articulation or effects and keeps ornamentation mainly to a few rather ravishingly delivered decorative flourishes. Each movement has convincing atmosphere and pace, from the proud, stately bearing of the Grave of No 4 to the delicious lilt of No 9’s Siciliana to the expertly set-out Allegros of No 5. In short, there is a beguiling naturalness here that has not always been Biondi’s thing, and that suits this music so well that even the whirlingly fast tempi he chooses for some movements are in no danger of jarring.
Not that there aren’t other ways of doing it, as Andrew Manze’s more strongly characterised (but in other ways rather similar-sounding) recording from 1994 shows. Rachel Podger is somehow not her usual lively self in her 2001 reading, leaving Biondi up there with Manze as a very recommendable choice.