Thursday 30 January 2014

Recorder player Héloïse Gaillard provides excellent performances of Telemann’s 12 Fantaisies pour Flûte seule sans basse on a new release from AgOgique

The French record company AgOgique have just released a recording of 12 Fantaisies pour Flûte seule sans basse (12 Fantasies without basso continuo) by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) played by Héloïse Gaillard


I must admit to not having heard Gaillard’s name before but she is an outstanding musician who has performed with such notable period ensembles such as Le Concert Spirituel , Les Talens Lyriques , Le Concert d’Astrée and Les Arts Florissants playing both oboe and recorder.

On this new disc, she plays a selection of recorders, tenor, alto, soprano and sopranino made by Bruno Reinhard  and Francesco Livighi in order to bring a variety of sounds and textures to the music.

The exact date of publication of these Fantasies is not known. The catalogue of Telemann’s works (Telemann-Werke-Verzeichnis) lists these works as TWV40:002-013, dating them from around 1732/1733, but it is now believed they may have been published in 1727/28. My book on Telemann by Richard Petzoldt doesn’t help as, understandably given the modest size of a book, Telemann’s vast output takes some covering.

Héloïse Gaillard orders the works differently to their numbering, providing a satisfying recital. The Alla francese that opens Fantaisie No.7 in D major has some unusual textures as the music jumps around.  Gaillard draws some lovely timbres from her tenor recorder before the music moves to an attractive dancing theme with some first rate playing, before returning to the opening tempo. This Fantasy concludes with a terrific little Presto.

The first of the two movements of the Fantaisie No.3 in D minor is marked Largo – Vivace – Largo - Vivace. After the brief slow opening, the Vivace lightly dances around before the Largo returns with lovely upward swoops leading to a return of the Vivaceto conclude. A flowing Allegro with little decorative notes leads this Fantasie to a conclusion. Gaillard shows terrific articulation with her Reinhard alto recorder.

The Fantaisie No.12 in G minor also adopts a slow, fast, slow structure this time with Grave – Allegro – Grave – Allegro – Dolce – Allegro. In the opening, brief, Grave, Gaillard’s soprano recorder brings lovely textures. The allegros are jolly and vibrant with a flowing Dolce before the final Allegro that dances to a close.

With the Fantaisie No.9 in G major Gaillard changes back to the alto recorder for the Affetuoso, a slow section that brings out so much of the instrument’s woody timbre. This is a lovely movement with terrific breath control over these long drawn phrases. The Allegro brings some lovely rhythms that dance freely around. The Grave acts more as a link between the Allegro and concluding Vivace, a movement that has a syncopated rhythm in a melody reminiscent of Bach.

The tenor recorder is played in the Fantaisie No.8 in E minor, the Largo of which moves around over the range in a very flowing piece. Spirituoso is a fast moving movement based on a three note rising motif that appears throughout. A rhythmically swaying Allegro brings to an end this delightful Fantaisie, terrifically played by Gaillard.

Fantaisie No. 10 in A minor opens with A tempo giusto, a fast flowing section with beautifully controlled playing of the alto recorder. Some of Telemann’s shorter movements are really attractive such as the delightful Presto, full of life and invention. With the Moderato, Telemann brings more delights with a lovely flowing rhythm.

The tenor recorder brings an underlying warmth to the Dolce of the Fantaisie No.6 in D minor. The Allegro has an intricate rhythm that demands much from the player before the fast flowing Spirituoso that is no less a test of technique and musicianship, brilliantly played by Gaillard.

Much of the Fantaisie No. 2 in D minor is again curiously reminiscent of Bach. The opening Grave suggests the theme of Bach’s Musical Offering but is carefully woven by Telemann. There is a lovely bouncing Vivace before the Adagio with a theme that again seems familiar yet is given an unusual rhythmic slant. The final Allegro again brings to mind a Bachian theme. It is given a florid treatment that makes it most attractive.

In the Vivace – Adagio of the Fantaisie No.1 in A major there is a slow working out of the theme before a staccato dancing version arrives. The Adagio is unusual having long drawn phrases interspersed with rapid decorations. Here more than in any of the other Fantasies Telemann looks to have been experimenting with ideas. Finally there is a lovely rising and falling Allegro that flows along with lovely playing from Gaillard using the tenor recorder.

Fantaisie No.5 in C major brings Telemann’s favoured fast, slow, fast structure for the opening movement marked Presto – Largo – Presto – Dolce. The bright sound of the soprano recorder works so well in the rapid passages and long drawn phrases. Short, punctuated phrases adorn the second movement, Allegro, joyfully played by this artist. The lively, final Allegro has something of the feel of a sea shanty.

Returning to the alto recorder for the Fantaisie No.4 in E flat major, the Andante has an appealing melody, rather stately in character before a fast flowing, slightly punctuated Allegro, again showing Gaillard’s superb articulation. The Presto is a lovely piece with little upward flourishes, so well phrased by Gaillard

The sopranino recorder arrives for the Fantaisie No.11 in B flat major with an Allegro full of short staccato phrases and an Adagio – Vivace that has a florid, flowing opening before another shanty like theme appears. There is a terrific little Allegro that dashes ahead, full of intricate figuration, with a lovely little chirrup to end. What a great way to end this attractive collection.

Héloïse Gaillard, who provides the booklet notes, is well recorded in l’Eglise Saint Pierre du Tronchet, France. There are full details and illustrations of the instruments.

Héloïse Gaillard is a first rate recorder player who provides excellent performances that allows us to hear another aspect of Telemann’s huge output.

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