Telemann: 12 Fantasies for Violin TWV 40:14-25, 12 Fantasies for Flute TWV40:2-13

The Great Violins
volume 1 – Andrea Amati, 1570
Peter Sheppard Skærved
127:11 (2 CDs)
athene ATH23203

This is the first of a projected series in which the violinist is allowed to play some of the most important violins that have come down to us. I suspect that, had I been involved, I would have argued very strongly that the recordings should also feature relevant music. So “disappointed” is possibly the best way to describe my reaction to the fact that this two CD set of Telemann is played on a 1570 Amati! What about all the fabulous music of the earlier 17th century? Then to think that some of the repertoire is not violin music at all calls the entire enterprise into question – is it all about the violins, or is the player really supposed to be the focus of our attention? A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (to whom the instrument belongs), and “dedicatee of over 400 works for violin”, he clearly has something of a reputation but I regret to say that there is little to engage me here, either in terms of the recorded sound or the way in which Telemann’s interplay of voices is handled – the music is read horizontally without any concept (at least as far as I can discern) of the importance (perhaps I might even go as far as to say “the existence”) of the vertical. His notes seem to suggest that Telemann expected the works to be played in sequence, with the brightness of one “immediately annulled” by its successor. I’m afraid this won’t be on my shelves very long.

Brian Clark