TELEMANN: 36 Fantasias for harpsichord – Andrea Coen – Brilliant (3 CDs)

by | Feb 7, 2012 | Classical CD Reviews

TELEMANN: 36 Fantasias for harpsichord – Andrea Coen – Brilliant 94228 (3 CDs), 54:49, 64:06, 49:58 (Distr. by Naxos) ****:
Telemann enjoyed considerable fame in his time, regarded as one of the greatest living composers, and his long life helped. But like most of the other Baroque composers except Handel he was pretty much forgotten until the late 19th and 20th century. He wrote a huge amount of music in a variety of forms, but is not known for his keyboard music.  In fact one reviewer referred to the Fantasias as “rococo keyboard backwater.”
It is true that the melodies in these 36 pieces are rather short and not that catchy, but Telemann does interesting things with them, like symphonic composers that take a very simple and obvious main theme and create a symphonic masterpiece out of it.  The Fantasias were published in 1732-33 in three groups of a dozen each—the first and third in an Italian style and the middle one in more of a French style. The Italian ones have three movements in a fast-slow-fast pattern, while the French ones sport four movements, though one of them may be as short as 30 seconds. Telemann had a unique power to make use of many different styles and types of music in his own without sounding like he was copying. The composer himself said he wrote them “…so that the player enjoys theme, and you can take pleasure from that.”
The harpsichord sonics are fine, and in no way does this set show any problems due to its budget price. The harpsichord is a copy of an early 18th century German one and the recording was made in Monte San Vito, Italy just last year. Roman harpsichordist Coen is a specialist in the music of Cimarosa and has recorded his complete keyboard works, as well as the piano sonatas of Giustini.
—John Sunier

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