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Briefly Noted: Solo Telemann

available at Amazon
Georg Philipp Telemann, Fantasias for solo violin, Alina Ibragimova

(released on October 7, 2022)
Hyperion CDA68384 | 65'56"
What can a violinist do after recording Bach's "Sei solo" pieces? There is a lot more repertory for the solo violin out there than you might think. The Russian-born violinist Alina Ibragimova, whose Bach sonatas and partitas were so excellent, has chosen an excellent follow-up. (At this summer's Proms in Great Britain, where she now makes her home, Ibragimova made clear her opposition to her home country's invasion of Ukraine.)

Ibragimova has recorded all twelve of Telemann's Fantasias for Violin without Bass, published in Hamburg in 1735 as part of the composer's voluminous output testing the solo capacities of various instruments. Each one is a delightful bite-size miniature, three or four movements lasting five to six minutes per fantasia. The fantasia, of course, is defined by its lack of solid form, favoring the imagination and musical variety. In his description of the set, Telemann said that half of the fantasias were contrapuntal in nature, favoring the older style of composition, and half were in the newer galant style.

Ibragimova plays these pieces much as she did the more complex Bach works, with clean technique and impeccable intonation and articulation. This is not to say that the music comes out cold or heartless, as she also manages to play even the most demanding passages with poignant phrasing. Telemann wrote these pieces for people to play in their homes, meaning there is a range of challenges for amateur violinists to confront. The slow movements, often quite simple technically, offer pleasing imaginative turns. Ibragimova mines each fantasia for its various delights, by turns rustic or polished.

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