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From Our Stage

Telemann Fantasia No. 8 in E minor

Melissa Farrow performs Telemann’s Fantasia No. 8 in E minor, TWV 40:9 in this new performance for Brandenburg One.

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PROGRAM NOTES

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 – 1767)

Fantasia No. 8 in E minor, TWV 40:9

During the 18th century, Georg Philipp Telemann was the finest composer in Germany – greater even than Johann Sebastian Bach. A largely self-taught musician having mastered all the established musical forms of his day, Telemann was a trailblazer of seemingly inexhaustible energy and imagination.

Telemann wrote an astounding number of musical works, estimated at more than 3,000 compositions (many of which have been lost), but also three autobiographies. However, it is fellow German composer Johann Mattheson who perhaps wrote the most pertinent contemporary account of this extraordinary man in 1740:

Quote
People sing the praises of Lully; they speak very highly of Corelli;
Only Telemann is above all praise.
JOHANN MATTHESON, Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte, Hamburg 1740

Apart from writing music and autobiographies, Telemann’s energies were also focused on a remarkable publishing business run in Frankfurt and Hamburg from 1715 through the late 1730s. Not only did he create a network of distribution agents across Europe, but he also did much, if not all, of the engraving himself, pioneering the use of pewter plates and punches in Germany.

Self-published, Telemann’s Fantasia No. 8 for solo flute in E minor comes to us from a larger collection of 12 works. Much like Bach’s now famous collection of 48 Preludes & Fugues for keyboard, each of Telemann’s fantasias is a complete entity, but together they create a monumental whole. From A major through G minor, Telemann masterfully exploits the full range of tonalities and Affekts suited to the transverse flute.

Just as JS Bach’s lone Partita in A minor for solo flute inspires our ears to imagine more vertical harmonies, Telemann’s collection of 12 Fantasias proves it is possible to weave a vast and colourful harmonic tapestry from just a single melodic line.

WHAT TO LISTEN FOR

According to Mattheson, the key of E minor is: “hardly joyful because it is normally very pensive, profound, grieved, and sad, [but] still [offers] hope for consolation”. Here, we indeed find consolation in Principal Baroque Flute Melissa Farrow’s performance. The opening Largo is plaintive, almost grieved like the descending chromatic phrases across bars 5 and 6, followed by a purposeful, agile and assured Spirituoso and a final dance-like Allegro in 3/4.

 

Program Notes: Joanna Butler & Hugh Ronzani, 2021
Image Credit: Keith Saunders, 2021

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MELISSA FARROW

Melissa Farrow enjoys a fulfilling career as a period flautist, recorder player, and teacher on the Australian early music scene. She plays a variety of instruments, including various models of traverso (side-blown flute) and recorder.

Growing up in Auckland, New Zealand, Melissa came to Sydney in 1994 to study Undergraduate flute and recorder at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She then completed postgraduate studies at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam in flute, recorder and traverso. On her return to Australia, Melissa chose to focus her attention on the area she loves most, early music, collecting and playing historical instruments from early French model Baroque flutes through to mid-nineteenth century flutes.

Since 2003, Melissa has been Principal Baroque Flute and Recorder of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and is a core member of the Australian Haydn Ensemble and the Orchestra of the Antipodes. Melissa is regularly asked to play with other notable ensembles such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Adelaide Baroque, New Zealand Barok, Ironwood, Latitude 37, Ludivico’s Band, The Marais Project, and for the Sydney and Brisbane Festivals.

As Baroque flute and recorder soloist with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Melissa has performed a number of concertos including Vivaldi’s La Notte, RV 439, JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 and No. 4, Telemann’s Concerto for Flute and Violin and his Concerto for Recorder and Flute, Mozart’s Andante in C major and his Concerto for Flute and Harp. She features on several of the Brandenburg’s recordings including The Romantics and Brandenburg Celebrates playing Telemann's Concerto for Flute and Violin with Shaun Lee-Chen.

Over the past ten years, Melissa has been given the fantastic opportunity of curating some of the Brandenburg’s smaller chamber music performances for City of Sydney community centres, Australian Unity communities, Art Gallery of NSW, National Gallery of Australia, and Regional Tours.

Melissa enjoys teaching recorder and Baroque style for both modern and Baroque flute and is a casual lecturer in Baroque Flute at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

View an interview with Melissa Farrow here

Biography: Melissa Farrow, 2020
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019

BAROQUE FLUTE

Fitting to the stylistic demands of the beautiful Fantasia No. 8 in E minor by Telemann I play on a replica of a Baroque flute made by Italian maker Carlo Palanca, from Turin around 1750.

The original model by Palanca was made of ebony, a wood which gave this model of flute a particular focus of sound, though it is not often used now to make flutes. Grenadilla is often used in its place.

It was recreated in 2011 by German wind instrument maker Martin Wenner.

Made from grenadilla black wood, this mid-century model of flute has a depth and warmth of tone that I admire. I often choose this as my go-to orchestral Baroque flute at the pitch of A=415 as it has the focus and strength to carry sound a little further than some other models of flutes from earlier in the century due to it’s unusually oval embouchure, whereas other models have varying degrees of a circle shape to blow across for sound production.

The Palanca flute plays with agility throughout the whole range of the flute (D1 above middle-C to A3) and is quite at home playing the solo Telemann Fantasies, TWV 40:2-13 written in Hamburg in the early 1730s.

 

Instrument Notes: Melissa Farrow, 2020
Image Credit: Keith Saunders, 2021

FROM THE MANUSCRIPT

In the above excerpt, all three movements from Telemann's Fantasia No. 8 in E minor for solo flute are visible: Largo, Spirituoso & Allegro. This self-published undated manuscript (1732-33) is held by The Library of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.

Image Credit: The Library of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels

 

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN

Born 24 March 1681 in Magdeburg
Died 25 June 1767 in Hamburg
Childhood (1681–1701)
Leipzig (1701–1705)
Sorau, Poland (1705–1706)
Eisenach (1706–1712)
Frankfurt (1712–1721)
Hamburg (1721–1767)

Image Credit: Rettinghaus, 2015 

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