Pamela Thorby - Telemann: Recorder Sonatas and Fantasias - Gramophone

Pamela Thorby's new two-disc set looks at first glance pretty hardcore: one disc of sonatas with continuo and a second of solo fantasias (originally for flute), all by Telemann, might just look like recorder overload. Yet that would be forgetting the ever-engaging personas of composer and interpreter. Telemann organised his published music with Bachian rigour to illustrate a range of styles and formal types - dances, fugues, arias, preludes, etc - but he also let his voice speak out in every bar; there's always something going on, and we are never on autopilot.

Thorby shows her alertness to the music's variety by ringing the changes in her continuo department of cello, lute, guitar, bassoon and harpsichord, and in the fantasias from the sheer interpretative intelligence and authority with which she shapes them. Telemann's ‘solo polyphony' is in many ways clearer and more readily comprehended than Bach's, which may well have the effect for the performer of making it easier to stay in touch with its underlying Baroque manners. Whatever, it is certain that Thorby finds the character of each piece thanks to a command of articulation, rhetorical timing and spontaneity that seems totally innate - you feel that, far from ‘applying' an interpretation to it, she simply can't help herself. Her continuo partners in the sonatas are classy, by the way, but special mention goes to the lyrical and gentlemanly bassoon of Peter Whelan.

01 January 2016