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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some Brilliant Flute Playing

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)

Twelve Fantasias for Flute

Fantasia 1 in A [3:16]

Fantasia 2 in a minor [5:01]

Fantasia 3 in b minor [3:43]

Fantasia 4 in B-flat [3:19]

Fantasia 5 in C [3:53]

Fantasia 6 in D [5:59]

Fantasia 7 in D [5:02]

Fantasia 8 in e minor [3:53]

Fantasia 9 in E [5:39]

Fantasia 10 in f-sharp minor [4:49]

Fantasia 11 in G [3:27]

Fantasia 12 in g minor [5:21]

Jed Wentz, (baroque flute)

No recording dates or locations are given on the disc.


A number of composers have written works for the solo flute sans accompaniment, but very few of these pieces reach the high levels of quality and creativity that were achieved by Telemann in his twelve solo fantasias. Like most baroque instrumental pieces, these works are based on dance forms with the occasional freewheeling prelude thrown in for good measure. That Telemann was able to create music that sounds polyphonic for an instrument incapable of playing more than one note at a time is perfectly amazing.

The boldness of this music can also be a bit of a surprise. But if one comes to understand that in the seventeenth century the flute was seen as a manly instrument, capable of expressing a wide range of emotions, the vividness of these pieces makes perfect sense.

Jed Wentz certainly blows the dust off the scores as he romps through these twelve little masterpieces with enough panache and showmanship to put Liberace to shame. Almost daring in his rhythmic liberties, Wentz’ audacity turns into sheer delight very quickly. The energy with which he plays conjures up aural images of full orchestras and consorts. Slower movements almost ache with passion. Compared to Barthold Kuijken’s graceful gentility and Jean-Pierre Rampal’s phoned in performances, Wentz seems to have found the heart of these works, and dared to make them his very own.

In his charming program note, Wentz almost apologizes for his interpretations, but then turns around and says in so many words that he plays the music the way he feels it, convention be damned. Would that more early music types could shed their fear of disobeying a treatise and dare to make music from the soul.

At Brilliant Classics’ super budget price this disc is a steal. It is indeed one of the most ear-catching and imaginative performances that I have come across this year and will merit much repeated listening.

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