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Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Twelve Fantasias for solo violin, TWV 40:14-25
Kinga Augustyn (violin)
rec. 2015, Patrych Sound Studios, Bronx, New York
CENTAUR CRC3607 [71:37]

Following her impressive traversal of the 24 Paganini Caprices on Roven Records in 2016, Polish-born, New York City-based violinist Kinga Augustyn again takes on music for solo violin, this time the less frequently encountered Twelve Fantasias by Georg Philipp Telemann.

They are not as commonly heard or recorded as Bach’s sonatas and partitas, nor are they as difficult. Still, they present significant challenges for the performer, but more importantly offer the listener very rewarding music.

This Centaur album comes across in several ways as an attempt to impart a certain amount of authenticity to the performance. On the cover of the booklet Ms. Augustyn is shown wearing an exquisite gown, its olden style likely dating to the era of the composition. Telemann’s Fantasias were published in 1735, and the violin Augustyn is holding in the photograph, was made in 1734. It is a quite impressive sounding Antonio Zanotti instrument, on loan to her from a private collector. In his review of this CD, Dave Billinge perceptively noted that the bow and other accoutrements are of very recent vintage but suggested that these modernizations don’t detract from the performance. I’ll second that as I think the sound of the instrument is most pleasing and certainly appropriate.

The Fantasia, as Telemann used it, is a multi-section work in two forms: four-movement Church sonata structure, slow, fast (fugue), slow, fast – or the more conventional form, fast, slow, fast. To some listeners, the uninitiated in particular, the music here may initially sound dry and barren, in need of a second instrument for accompaniment, but the music becomes more appealing upon repeated hearings, becomes an acquired taste, so to speak. In performances this excellent, it is easy to develop that ‘acquired taste.’

As on her Paganini disc, Augustyn plays with accuracy, impeccable tone and virtuoso technique. Indeed, and her interpretations are convincing in every piece here, the Baroque spirit of the violin and Telemann’s mastery abiding throughout. The profundity and weighty nature of the slower movements, and energy and brilliance of the faster ones both brim with character and heart, and in the end are simply captivating.

Try No. 7, the E-flat major Fantasia, which is the longest of the twelve here, and notice that the sense of solemnity in the opening movement never drags or lacks spirit, but speaks its sadness eloquently. Dynamics are well judged and Augustyn’s tone is beautiful. The ensuing Allegro section bristles with life and strength here, and the digital clarity of the playing is exquisite. Another slow section (Largo) is profoundly moving in Augustyn’s deft phrasing and the brief closing Presto is vivacious and thoroughly convincing.

Pick any of the other eleven Fantasias on the CD and Augustyn is just as effective and compelling. The notes provided by Gabriel Schaff are very informative and Centaur’s sound reproduction is vivid, actually ideal for this kind of work. Violin aficionados and Telemann mavens will find this a most satisfying disc.

Robert Cummings

Previous review: Dave Billinge



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