Heinz Holliger

Telemann: Music for Oboe

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This release contains not the promised "music for oboe" by Telemann but 12 Fantasias originally written for transverse flute. Telemann would certainly have been agreeable to the idea of playing them on an oboe, and veteran Swiss oboist Heinz Holliger, who has long had a gift for creating fresh Baroque programs without using a period oboe or doing anything really startling. This album, reissued by the Regis label from an unmentioned but seemingly fairly old original, is a case in point. The oboe, with its sharp timbral contrasts among its registers, makes these 12 solo fantasias (with one sonata for oboe and continuo at the end) into almost new works. Each Fantasia contains a series of short sections (from two to seven). The prevailing mood of the flute set is light, with the technically difficult ornamentation serving to put a French sheen on even the predominantly Italianate parts. In Holliger's hands this does not exactly change, but the emphasis falls much more on the implied polyphonic lines in the music. Telemann here sounds almost Bachian. The big disincentive for buyers wanting to hear the album in anything other than noisy conditions (like a car) is the sound, which appears to have had problems in both the original recording and the latest round of remastering. The recording sounds as though it was made in a church; it's highly live and picks up every click and clack of the oboe's keys. Telemann who wrote these pieces for intimate chamber use, would have been surprised to hear this, and somewhere along the line a harsh edge has been added. Holliger fans will want this album, but the casual buyer may wish to sample the various flute versions available.

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