Telemann-24 FANTASIES!.

Posted on June 7th, 2013 by

Telemann- 24 Fantasies

A much loved score-the Siciliana from the 11th VIolin Fantasie

A much loved score-the Siciliana from the 11th VIolin Fantasie

Today (21st November 2013), I completed a project which has been on my mind for many years-to bring together recordings of the Telemann Flute Fantasies and Violin Fantasies. There is no music dearer to me than this, and 20 years ago, it was with the (first complete) recording of the 12 Violin Fantasies that I began my serious recording life. Here’s a link to that recording, made on my beloved Hill violin. I have long wanted to record these works on gut, and having the chance to work on the extraordinary 1560 Amati, crystalised this determination. So, last week, I spent a day recording the flute Fantasies (see below for more about this) and then today, I recorded the 12 Violin Fantasies in one sitting, inspired by the music, the violin, my Airenti bow, and the beautiful church of St John the Baptist Aldbury-our recording home. Here are the unedited outtakes from both days, the first chance to hear all 24 Fantasies playing by one musician!

A violin to inspire. The back of the 1560 Andrea Amati, on which I have just recorded the 12 Telemann Flute Fantasies. 13th November 2013

A violin to inspire. The back of the 1560 Andrea Amati, on which I have just recorded the 12 Telemann Flute Fantasies. 13th November 2013


A note from master archetier, Antonino Airenti: ‘Usually when I am asked «why should I use a copy of an historical bow?» I answer, «Because it works! And it can teach you a lot» but then I add «on an imstrument historically mounted».My experience of thirty years had taught me that. Then Peter has demonstrated in practice that a seventeenth-century bow can also work well on a violin with a different mounting and, above all, it can still lead a musician to perform to the best the strokes for which it was designed. And that’s the point here: the bows before the French Revolution are not necessarily neither primitive nor imperfect. It’s pretty hard to believe that the extraordinary craftsmen who created the world’s finest violins could be satisfied with imperfect bows. We mean men in whose instruments even the smallest detail was carefully designed. Maybe, simply, those bows were designed to perform a certain kind of music.They succeeded and, apparently, they can be very good even today. ‘Anthony Airenti, luthier before and bow maker then, for over thirty years dedicated to the study of early music instruments.

Frog of bow by Antonino Airenti

Frog of bow by Antonino Airenti

 Tip of bow by Antonino Airenti

Tip of bow by Antonino Airenti





UNEDITED Session outtakes: Recorded 13thand 21st November 2013 St John the Baptist Aldbury

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin (Andrea Amati 1560  Gut-strung A+416. Bow by Antonino Airenti)

Engineer-Jonathan Haskell (Astouding Sounds)


12 Flute Fantasies (arranged for violin-world premiere recording)

Fantasia 1 A Major

Fantasia 2  A minor

Fantasia 3 B minor

Fantasia 4 B flat Major

Fantasia 5 C Major

Fantasia 6 D minor

Fantasia 7 D Major

Fantasia 8 E minor

Fantasia 9 E Major

Fantasia 10 F sharp minor

Fantasia 11 G Major

Fantasia 12 G minor

All through my work as a musician I have been fascinated by wind and brass instruments, technique, and the interrelationship between string playing and wind brass repertoire/performance, both historically and today. The origin for me, of this is the crossover between repertoire in the 18th and early 19th century. This has its obvious roots in the fact that an accomplished musician of the period was, by definition, a multi-instrumentalist, composer and usually a trained singer. Johann Joachim Quantz, whose  Treatise of a Method for Playing the Transverse Flute (1752 Berlin) is more or less the bible of style and practice in Northern Europe in the mid-18th Century, was also a violinist. There is perhaps more practical information about violin playing in this work than Leopold Mozart’s conteporaneous A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing (1756). There was such a crossover of techniques, and my feeling has always been that this continues.

The beginning of Flute Fantasia 3, with the Andrea Amati and Antonino Airenti instruments…

But my focus of interest here is Telemann. In 1993, I made the first complete recording of the Telemann  12 Fantasies (1735)  for solo violin. At this time these masterpieces were almost never played. They have been at the centre of my repertoire ever since, and I have played the cycle countless times.  LINK  However, the origin of my fascination with these violin fantasies had been my earlier encounter with the 12 Fantasies (1732/3) for solo flute. When I was a student, the wind players with whom I was friends introduced me to the beauty of these works, and I had the opportunity to hear the cycle, in pioneering performances at the time by Wissam Boustany, and when I could, in private, I played these works, though far from the ears of my flutist acquaintances. This led, naturally to the performance and recording of the violin works.

12 Fantasies for Violin

Fantasia 1 B flat Major

Fantasia 2 G Major

Fantasia 3 F  minor

Fantasia 4 D Major

Fantasia 5 A Major

Fantasia 6 E minor

Fantasia 7 E flat Major

Fantasia 8 E Major

Fantasia 9 B minor

Fantasia 1o D Major

Fantasia 11 F Major

Fantasia 12 A minor

Now however, I returning to all 24 Fantasies. I had always been aware that the earliest known edition of these works (there is a copy in the Brussels Conservatoire Library ( littera T 5823 W) says on the front page “Violino”. I am not suggesting for a minute that these are violin pieces, but modestly, that violinists should learn them-as an Apollo-nian balance to the rather earthier (I generalise)violin works. But there is another aspect to this; a simple one, which is that composers such as Telemann, whilst taking advantage of the extraordinary expressive and colouristic opportunities of the flute of the time, had aspects of the violin at back of their minds. A simple example of this would be the placing/tuning of ‘open strings’. These are present throughout the works; ironically, in order to keep within the compass of the flute-the works never go below D (a tone above middle C)-which is an open string on the violin, or above the E, two octaves and a tone higher (which is a ringing ‘harmonic’ on the violin). Yet again, I stress, I do not think these are violin pieces, but steal them, in the same spirit of banditry which draws me to the Schubert Variations or the Bach A minor Partita.


Georg Philipp Telemann (14 March 1681 – 25 June 1767)

The colour afforded me by the ca.1560 Amati on which I am working today, has drawn me to consider recording both sets of Fantasies together. Here are some selections, recorded at the desk this morning. (7th June 2013)

Georg Philipp Telemann-12 Fantasies (selections) Workshop recording (at the practice desk). Wapping 7th June 2013. Violin-Andrea Amati (ca 1560) Bow-Antonino Airenti (2011)

Fantasia 4 Andante

Fantasia 5 Allegro

Fantasia 6 Dolce


Fantasia 8 Largo


Fantasia 9 Affetuoso

Fantasia 10 A tempo giusto