XII Fantasie per il Flauto senza Basso
Tabea Debus, recorders
TYXart XA18105. 79’51
Telemann’s 12 Fantasias for solo Flute paired with pieces commissioned by the City Music Foundation from the 12 contemporary composers: Leo Chadburn, Ronald Corp, Moritz Eggert, Arne Gieshoff, Dani Howard, Oliver Leith, Colin Matthews, Fumiko Miyachi, Misha Mullov-Abbado, Alastair Penman, Max de Wardener and Frank Zabel.
There is more than enough classical music around to keep performers happy for hundreds of years to come, but without new composers and compositions, music as a creative art form will die. So this recording from recorder player Tabea Debus is particularly important. In conjunction with the City Music Foundation, she commissioned 12 contemporary composers to write companion pieces to Telemann’s 12 Fantasies, originally written for solo flute, but here performed very effectively on a range of different recorders. I reviewed some of the new pieces during a Baroque at the Edge festival earlier this year (see here), but this CD brings them all together in a fascinating sequence of Telemann and contemporary takes on Telemann. Some of the new pieces follow the relevant Telemann Fantasias, some introduce them – and some are interspersed within the Telemann movements.
The range of contemporary musical styles is wide, and call on Tabea Debus’s impressively wide range of virtuoso abilities, including singing into, and alongside, the recorders. She uses nine different instruments, including a couple of voice-flutes. It would be invidious to pick out any of the individual contributions from living composers, but I will mention a few tasters, with the rider that all are impressive, musically and in terms of their relationship to the Telemann originals.
I have reviewed Tabea Debus many times. One of the things I admire about her playing is her fluidity of musical expression and phrasing, here very apparent from the very start, with the opening Telemann movement. I initially thought this might have been one of the new compositions, but the relaxed approach to pulse perfectly caught the improvisatory mood of Telemann’s toccata-like Vivace. Dani Howard’s Two and a half Minutes to Midnight adds the third movement that Telemann didn’t provide, it’s helter-skelter mood a perfect counter to the opening Vivace.
The following Fantasia (No. 2) is followed by Alastair Penman’s Mirrored Lines, cleverly including a link to the following 3rd Fantasia by shifting up a semitone at the end. It makes use of the technique of singing into the recorder to provide an accompaniment to the sounded notes. Oliver Leith’s bendy broken telemann no. 3 uses two recorders, tuned a semitone apart, to reflect the opening Largo of Telemann’s 3rd Fantasie just before the final Telemann movement. And so the contrasts been Telemann and contemporary composers continues. With birth dates ranging from 1946 to 1993
This is a very impressive venture, both by a young performer who is clearly marking out an impressive musical career, and also by the more seasoned and august City Music Foundation whose sponsorship of the composition commissions and recording advances their mission of turning “exceptional musical talent into professional success by equipping outstanding musicians with the tools, skills, experience and networks they need to build and sustain rewarding and profitable careers”.