Telemann's Twelve Fantasias extend far beyond the sound worlds of either Bach or Biber in both depth of emotion and an obvious vulnerability. There is little rhetoric here, only a passionate musical intensity that seems to well up from the composer's very soul. Manze, performing on a Gagliano (1783), continually hypnotizes, his violin captured beautifully in an immensely flattering acoustic, never acerbic, but resonating with a tone much richer and darker-hued and "vocal" than is common with period instruments. The Fantasias, themselves, are marvelous, phantasmagorical "inventions" of infinite wonder and design, yet retain a staggering ability to appear completely improvisational. That Manze is committed to these incredible pieces is unquestionable. His playing is simply stunning, without drawing attention to his own phenomenal virtuosity or the extreme difficulties inherent in each Fantasia. The "Gulliver Suite" for two violins (with Caroline Balding playing a 1783 Amati/Cremona), derived, obviously, from Swift's book, is, at just over seven minutes, a pleasant diversion that brings upbeat closure to the CD.
[Running time: 78:18]