Notes and Editorial Reviews
Telemann's 12 unaccompanied violin fantasias are so melodically resourceful and effectively written that you have to wonder why they're infrequently recorded. However, Arthur Grumiaux set down the cycle in February 1970, resulting in one of the choicest items in his distinguished discography. Intonation is never less than perfect; the tone is as full-bodied, warm, and elegant as Grumiaux's norm, while dynamics, tempos, and phrasing thoroughly reflect the violinist's innate musicality and aristocratic taste. His control of multi-voice textures always gives the illusion of two or three instruments in tandem, while motoric rhythmic patterns boast sharp focus without the least hint of rigidity (the A minor, No. 12, for example).
It's true that some of Andrew Manze's slower, more darkly conceived interpretations tap into a different emotional dimension and improvisatory spirit by virtue of historic performance practice techniques, yet that does not invalidate the communicative warmth and lyric strength of Grumiaux's "old school" fiddling.
Iona Brown's 1983 selection of five concertos makes a nice coupling. The performances fall easily on the ear yet grab your attention by way of the easy interaction between soloist and ensemble, subtle changes of color on the repeats, plus discreet yet inventive harpsichord continuo. From a sonic standpoint this disc was one of the best-balanced and naturally-engineered early digital releases, and it's a joy to welcome it back into the catalogue, together, of course, with Grumiaux at his peak. Warmly recommended.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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