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CD Feature/ Viviana Guzman: "Telemann Flute Fantasies"

img  Tobias

The taste of the time can be a strange thing. Who is to say why Telemann was preferred above Bach in his lifetime – and has today fallen into a slump with most artists merely talking about him with respect rather than reverence. What he’d need is a group of dedicated musicians leading the way with a new approach to his oeuvre – and Viviana Guzman may just be the right one to lead the pack.

For one, she is a flutist. Even though Telemann’s work consists of  about any possible instrumental combination, he has too easily been associated with the recorder - not the coolest genre of the 21st century, how unfortunate that may be. And then her spirited interpretations seem like the perfect antidote to the greatest danger with regards to this composer: Mechanical playing. Noone else, it seems, suffers as much from clumsiness and wooden phrasings as Telemann; Guzman, who has already brought a new dimension to the tango with her sparkling breathings, couldn’t be accused of this if she were half asleep on stage. She plays these solo flute tracks as if they were written by Vivaldi, full of joie de vivre, energy and zest. More importantly, she releases the melodic potential contained in them, be it in ductile musings or sparkling fountains of tones, which keep circling the root note until finally returning home. The adjective best to describe her interpretation is playful and that seems an adequate description for someone who wrote an estimated 3.000 compositions and tried on the most diverse styles and genres – regardless of his strict Prussian education. Of course, it can be tiresome to listen to fifty minutes of nothing but solo flute, but there are several reasons why that is not an issue with this disc. Most importantly, Telemann consciously arranged the work in groups of major and minor key. While the minor tracks may not necessarily be pensive or downbeat, they definitely pay more attention to the lyrical aspects of theme development, while the rapid major movements are the virtuoso showpieces with a phenomenal thrust. Guzman never just treats the fantasies as stand-alone affairs, but cares just as much for the larger tension arch, creating an effective stop-and-go flow as she goes along.

Okay, “Flute Fantasies” is merely a first step in rediscovering Telemann as a composer who can mean something to our times. To some, the agility of Guzman’s treatment may even be overstepping things a little. But it is also this total contrast with what we thought to know about the man that opens the chance to appreciate him on more than just a level of respect.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Viviana Guzman

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