Guillemain: Flute Quartets Op.12

Louis-Gabriel Guillemain: Flute Quartets Op.12 (1743)
Fantasticus, Wilbert Hazelezet
Resonus Classics,  RES10222. 2CDs, 44’13+44’44

Louis-Gabriel Guillemain (1705-1770) was a French composer and violinist. He started his violin studies in Paris and later studied in Italy. By 1729, Guillemain was working in Lyons and was soon appointed the first violinist of the Acadèmie de Musique. His Premier livre de sonates was published in 1734. Guillemain moved back to Paris becoming a musicien ordinaire to Louis XV and before long became one of the court’s highest-paid musicians. The Six sonates en quatuors ou conversations galantes for flute, violin, bass viol and continuo recorded here was published in 1743, when he was at the height of his career. Continue reading

Conversed Monologue

Conversed Monologue
Fantasticus XI
Resonus RES10166. 70’08

Graun: Concerto for Viola da Gamba in C; Leclair: Concerto for Violin in G minor; WF Bach: Concerto for Harpsichord in F major.

I have been impressed with previous CDs by Fantasticus (see here) and am equally impressed by their latest project, now expanded from their usual trio into a small baroque orchestra with the name of Fantasticus XL. All three members of the original Fantasticus take solo roles in the featured concertos – and what fascinating pieces they are. One of the joys of this recording is that all three pieces are little-known, but well worth discovering.

When the CD starts, it is difficult to appreciate that this is the start of a viola da gamba Concerto, such is the bravado and élan of Graun’s opening phrase. Continue reading

Bound to Nothing: The German Stylus Fantasticus

Bound to Nothing: The German Stylus Fantasticus
Fantasticus
Resonus. RES10156. 71’15

Buxtehude: Sonata in A Major (Op2/5), Praeludium in g (BuxWV 163);
Erlebach: Sonata II in E Minor, Sonata III in A;
Krieger: Sonata X in A,
JJ Walther: Cappricio in C; Kühnel: Sonata VIII in A.

I think I would be rather nervous of meeting Bach face to face, but Buxtehude seems to have been an altogether more companionable and jovial chap; something very ably demonstrated in the opening Sonata in A on this CD. Buxtehude is one of the key composers in the Stylus phantasticus – as it is usually spelt, unless your group’s name happens to be Fantasticus. With its roots in the music of Frescobaldi and the like in early 17th century Italy, the style was taken up with gusto by many later German composers. Written references to the style are rare, although Kircher in 1650 and Mattheson around 1740 (well after it had declined in popularity) both had a go at describing it – as did Frescobaldi. Mattheson referred to it as “most free and unrestrained … now swift, now hesitating … without theme or subject that are worked out”. The latter is evident in fugal passages that often start off correctly enough, but then fizzle out in a dazzling display of figuration – a common aspect of Buxtehude’s organ works, here represented by the G minor Praeludium, played on the harpsichord. Continue reading

Tartini & Veracini: Italian Violin Sonatas

Tartini & Veracini: Italian Violin Sonatas
Rie Kimura & Fantasticus
Resonus RES10148. 57’58

Although Tartini is better known nowadays, no doubt because of the myths surrounding his ‘Devil’s Trill’ sonata, it was the virtuoso violinist Veracini that was hitting the headlines in early 17th century Italy, Dresden and London. There is a certain degree of comeuppance in the fact that Tartini was described (by Charles Burney) as a humble and timid man, whereas the now relatively unknown Veracini was considered ‘foolishly vainglorious’. When Veracini descended upon London, Roger North was scathing in his criticism of the influx of Italian violinists, based on hearing Veracini play – in a style he described as ‘not better than insane’.

Veracini’s two Sonata on this CD, from his 1744 Sonate Accademiche perhaps Continue reading