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Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Twelve Fantasias, TWV40/2-13 (1732/3)
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Partita in c minor, BWV1013 (1718)* [15:13]
Erik Bosgraaf (* alto recorder; **voice flute; *** soprano recorder) (all tuned to aí=415Hz)
rec. Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church), Rhoon, Netherlands, 3-4 April 2008. DDD.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93757 [69:36]
Experience Classicsonline


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)

Twelve Fantasias, TWV40/2-13 (1732/3)
Fantasia 1 in A (transposed to C)* [3:05]
Fantasia 2 in a minor (transposed to d minor)* [4:45]
Fantasia 3 in b minor** [3:35]
Fantasia 4 in B flat (transposed to E flat)* [3:59]
Fantasia 5 in C (transposed to F)* [4:23]
Fantasia 6 in d minor** [5:22]
Fantasia 7 in D (transposed to F)* [5:27]
Fantasia 8 in e minor (transposed to g minor)* [4:25]
Fantasia 9 in E (transposed to G)* [6:12]
Fantasia 10 in f sharp (transposed to a minor)* [4:23]
Fantasia 11 in G (transposed to F)*** [3:21]
Fantasia 12 in g minor*** [5:06]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Partita in c minor, BWV1013 (1718)* [15:13]

This CD comes so very attractively packaged, with one of those renaissance joke paintings of vegetables, fruits and leaves arranged to resemble a human face, that I imagine many will pick it up and buy it on impulse. Iím not going to suggest that this would be a mistake, but I do think that there are far better introductions to Telemann. My fear is that the impulse buyer would find over an hour of solo recorder not to his or her taste and write off a composer thought superior even to J.S. Bach in his own day.

So, if you have yet to become acquainted with Telemannís music, this is probably not the place to start. There are any number of recommendable recordings of his very attractive orchestral works: you could do much worse than begin with Volume 2 of the Complete Wind Concertos: la Stagione Frankfurt and Camerata Köln on CPO 777 267-2: my initial reaction is very favourable. The CPO arrived in the same batch of review CDs as this Brilliant Classics recording. Or, if you would like to compare Telemann with his near-contemporary Handel, try the Hyperion coupling of their Water Music. Telemannís is correctly Hamburger Ebbí und Fluth, Hamburg Ebb and Flow. These are excellent performances by the Kingís Consort (CDA66967) and are also available from iTunes in Plus format. For a less expensive introduction to Telemann, you could do much worse than Capella Istropolitana on Naxos 8.550156 (the Recorder Suite in a minor, etc.).

I wouldnít even advise this as your first foray into Telemannís chamber and instrumental music. Iíd reserve that recommendation for the Paris Flute Quartets, performed by Freiburg Barock on a budget-price Harmonia Mundi CD (HMA195 1787). By the odd logic of the recording industry, the Harmonia Mundi recording is apparently also still available at full price; make sure you pay only for the cheaper catalogue number.

Bosgraafís obvious rival is Frans Brüggenís all-Telemann recording on the super-budget Warner Apex label (2564 60368 2 Ė see review). Brüggenís recital is more varied Ė six of these fantasias from TWV40 plus six accompanied sonatas from TWV41in which he is joined by Anner Bijlsma and Gustav Leonhardt in recordings from 1963 to 1972. Like Bosgraaf, Brüggen transposes the music from originals intended for the transverse flute, in order to make the music playable on a variety of recorders. JV thought the playing on the Apex recording variable but found the performances of all the fantasias brilliant: "Here Brüggen plays with more freedom and imagination and a strong sense of the rhetorical character of these pieces. He is really telling a story on his recorder."

Bosgraaf plays well, but Iím not sure that Iíd place him quite in the same category as JVís description of Brüggen. I must admit, too, that my ear soon tired of the solo recorder and I began to long for the kind of variety to be found on the Brüggen recording. There is however variety in the music and in the four different instruments which Bosgraaf plays Ė two alto recorders, a soprano recorder and a voice flute Ė and he is sensitive to the different moods of the music. Iím sure that his playing fully deserves the plaudits quoted in the booklet from a review of his Van Eyck performances for Brilliant Classics; I just missed a bit of basso continuo variety.

The excellent notes demonstrate, with music examples, how writing for a solo instrument can actually be polyphonic Ė or, at any rate, create the illusion of polyphony. However Iím afraid that no amount of scholarly exegesis can make the sound of a solo recorder interesting enough to keep the listenerís attention over a long span.

The Bach Partita, his only composition for solo flute, is quite a rare beast Ė I canít remember ever hearing it before. On its own, coupled with the accompanied Flute Sonatas, as on Stephen Prestonís recording (CRD33145), Iím sure that there is more in it that I got from hearing it at the end of a whole CD of solo recorder. The otherwise excellent notes in the booklet refer only to the Telemann pieces.

The recording is very good Ė JV mentions some problems with the ADD sound on the Brüggen disc Ė and the booklet is of a very high quality. You could easily be forgiven for thinking that Brilliant Classics booklets belonged with full-price recordings. The documentation which accompanies their recording of Monteverdiís Il Ritorno díUlisse in Patria (93104) is better than anything I have seen. The performances are pretty good, too, if a little too sedate by comparison with my favourite recording of that work, from William Christie on DVD (Virgin Classics 4 90612 9).

Even at the very low Brilliant Classics price Ė so cheap that one can almost afford to experiment and be disappointed Ė Iím afraid that my recommendation of the new CD must be muted. Fond as he clearly was of the members of the flute/recorder family, I donít think Telemann himself, were he still around to counsel the listeners of today, would begin by recommending these works. If he did, Iím pretty sure he would go for the Brüggen Ė and that has to be my recommendation, too, though the Brilliant Classics presentation puts to shame the drab cover of the Apex CD.

Full marks to Brilliant Classics for aiming at completeness. Iím only sorry that I canít muster more enthusiasm for the result.

Brian Wilson

 


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