- Audio CD (Sep 1 1998)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: SRI Canada
- ASIN: B0000007EP
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,380 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. Fantasia 1 in B flat|
|2. Fantasia 2 in G|
|3. Fantasia 3 in F-minor|
|4. Fantasia 4 in D|
|5. Fantasia 5 in A|
|6. Fantasia 6 in E minor|
|7. Fantasia 7 in E-flat|
|8. Fantasia 8 in E|
|9. Fantasia 9 in B minor|
|10. Fantasia 10 in D|
|11. Fantasia 11 in F|
|12. Fantasia 12 in A minor|
|13. Gulliver Suite : I Intrada|
|14. Gulliver Suite : II Chaconne of the Lilliputians|
|15. Gulliver Suite : III Gigue of the Brobdingngians|
|16. Gulliver Suite : IV Daydreams of the Laputians and their attendant flappers|
|17. Gulliver Suite : V Loure of the well-mannered Houyhnhnms & Wild dance of the untamed Yahoos|
Andrew Manze is a star of the period-instrument set. Lightning reflexes (and wits) and improvisatory flair are his strengths -- precisely what this music demands. His playing is a catalog of riches. Compare two concluding allegros -- No. 4, with its bustling near-orchestral accompaniment sharply set against the melody, and No. 11, all fantastic lightness. Or the Italianate curves of No. 6's graceful Siciliana. Caroline Balding seconds Manze impeccably in the encore, a playful suite inspired by "Gulliver's Travels."
The sound is typical of Harmonia Mundi's best -- a close, unimpeded perspective, as mellow as it is brilliant.
Call me heretical, but these gloriously wayward Telemann "Fantasias" for solo violin are far more attractive, melodious, mysterious and accessible than Bach's austere unaccompanied Sonatas/Partitas or Biber's scratchy, pedantic ramblings.
OK. In fact, I think they are the best works for violin that I have heard in ages, bar none. There. I said it.
Although Leslie Gerber, see above, "advises" against listening to all the Fantasias at one sitting, I believe the contrary true. You will, too.
Why? Because Manze, performing on a Gagliano (1783), continually hypnotizes us, his violin captured beautifully in an immensely flattering acoustic, never acerbic or irritating, but resonating with a tone much richer and darker-hued and "vocal" than we are used to in a period instrument. (For this reason, as well, I disagree with Gramophone's assessment that the baroque fiddle used here creates a "biting astringency"---e.g. Fantasia No. 6, they suggest. Oh, no. Hardly. Quite the opposite.)
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.
And, of course, Telemann's music is stunning, as well. His Twelve Fantasias, for me, go 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 honesty that seems to well up from the composer's very soul.
The "Gulliver Suite" for two violins (with Caroline Balding playing a 1783 Amati/Cremona), derived, obviously, from Swift's book, is clever but forgetable (at just over seven minutes). Nonetheless, it is pleasant and upbeat and brings the CD timing to a nice 78:18, which is fine by me.
Fact is, I can hardly wait to conclude this review so that I can again immerse myself in the Fantasias.