One of the most prolific composers of his generation whose music links the late Baroque and Classical styles, Telemann left behind 1,046 church cantatas, more than forty Passion settings, dozens of operas, and countless works for chamber ensembles, orchestra and unaccompanied instruments. To this last group belong the twelve Fantasias for solo flute, the thirty-six Fantasias for solo harpsichord, twelve Fantasias for solo viola da gamba (now lost, and the twelve Fantasias for solo violin without bass.
Telemann was, for the most part, self-taught in music and played the violin among many other instruments. He composed these Fantasias for violin, originally titled XII Fantasias per il Violino senza Basso, in 1735 for Panton Hebestreit, the Director of Music at Eisenach. Like other Fantasias, these works are rooted in the art of improvisation and do not adhere strictly to the “rules” of other musical forms. They consist of themes with three or four parts united to form a whole. Fast and exciting movements alternate with slow parts that encompass a subtly improvisatory spirit.
Telemann described the collection as “12 Fantasias […] of which 6 include fugues and 6 are Galanterien.” Alternation between the bass and a melody line through string crossing creates the impression of different voices. These compositions, possibly written for amateurs and students at that time, are still underappreciated today.
After much deliberation, I chose to record the album’s gallant and baroque pieces by Telemann and Bach with a baroque bow. Before doing this recording, I had experimented for several years switching back and forth between a baroque bow and my more modern Sartory bow (ca. 1893/94) when playing baroque repertoire. Finally, on the recording date, only after listening to the sound samples, I decided which bow to use for this album. I enjoyed the expressive potential of the baroque bow, the transparent textures, and the effortlessness with which it went “around the curves,” changing strings and direction with ease. The ability to differentiate subtle nuances at the beginning and end of each stroke and the subsequent numerous possibilities of connection between those notes appealed to me as well. The baroque bow naturally helped me interpret the music and avoid wrong accents in this repertoire. Furthermore, it allowed for a lighter sound, quicker, more flowing tempi, and lively articulations.