Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Twelve Fantasias for transverse flute without bass (TWV 40,2-13)
Fantasia No. 1 in C major (TWV 40,2) [3:57]
Fantasia No. 2 in C minor (TWV 40,3) [4:38]
Fantasia No. 3 in D minor (TWV 40,4) [3:53]
Fantasia No. 4 in D flat (TWV 40,5) [3:44]
Fantasia No. 5 in E flat (TWV 40,6) [4:21]
Fantasia No. 6 in F minor (TWV 40,7) [5:00]
Fantasia No. 7 in F (TWV 40,8) [6:44]
Fantasia No. 8 in G minor (TWV 40,9) [4:14]
Fantasia No. 9 in G (TWV 40,10) [5:53]
Fantasia No. 10 in A minor (TWV 40,11) [5:23]
Fantasia No. 11 in B flat (TWV 40,12) [3:33]
Fantasia No. 12 in B flat minor (TWV 40,13) [4:44]
Caroline Eidsten Dahl (recorder)
rec. 2019, Bragernes Church, Dammen, Norway
LAWO LWC1212 [56:05]
Flute players all over the world, present company included, have been playing Telemann’s Twelve Fantasias seemingly forever, most likely from the Bӓrenreiter edition which has been around since 1955 - others are available. I last came across Caroline Eidsten Dahl in her enjoyable Sonata Norwegica recording with Ensemble Freithoff, also on the Lawo label (review), and the chance to see what she would make of Telemann’s well-known solos.
I have nothing against these pieces being played on recorders rather than transverse flute, but you should be aware that these pieces have all been transposed into different keys to accommodate the recorders used here, an alto recorder and voiceflute, both modelled after examples by Peter Bressan (1663-1732). With the high standard of musicianship here and the refined sound made by Caroline Eidsten Dahl I have no complaints on this aspect of the production, and I don’t have perfect pitch so am not particularly bothered by the transpositions.
There is a balance to be struck in performing these pieces, between the dance nature of many of Telemann’s movements and their Fantasia nature as a whole. Caroline Eidsten Dahl is very good in contrasting an imaginative approach to the more open passages that invite ornamentation, and those rhythmic movements or sections that need firmer foundations in pulse to work properly. With nimble fingers and lively articulation in movements such as the central Allegro in Fantasia No. 4 and elegant legato in something like the Dolce opening to Fantasia No. 6 there is plenty to enjoy here. My only reservations with recorder rather than traverso is the sometimes edgy nature of extreme high notes, and a comparative lack of real dynamic contrast. Transverse flute gives you a bit more flexibility in both the upper range and an ability to create truer softness. One of Dahl’s former teachers, Dan Laurin, has long been my reference recorder version for the Telemann 12 Fantasias on BIS-CD-675, later included in one of those bumper BIS bargain boxes (review). It is fascinating to truffle out each player’s different approach to elaboration and subtlety of vibrato. Laurin and Dahl share a general lack of vibrato in their playing, though this is by no means entirely absent in both, being used more as an ornamental effect - more extrovert and with greater variety from the former, more sporadically and with a sense of intimacy from the latter.
Tempi and timings are conventional enough from Dahl, though I was keen to find out what was happening in Fantasia 7, with 6:04 for the Alla Francese and only 0:40 for the following Presto. The first section’s dances are indeed taken at a relatively stately tempo but by are no means unmusical, the Presto swift but not sounding rushed, the only remark being upbeat rhythm that sounds more like a compressed triplet than an eight and two sixteenth notes, but this is more an observation than a complaint. This proportion is similar to Dan Laurin’s approach on his BIS recording, contrasting with Barthold Kuijken’s transverse flute recording (review) that comes in at 3:39 for the whole piece.
Recorded in a suitably resonant acoustic this is a very refined and highly enjoyable release with, as already stated, superlatively high musical standards. Whether you prefer recorder or transverse flute will be up to you, but this can stand comparison with any alternative. Each movement if not every section is given its own access point on the CD, where most alternatives just have one track per Fantasia, and the booklet has useful notes on the dance forms Telemann uses.