Twelve Fantasias by G.P. Telemann with added guitar part by A. Thomas (2019) for flute and guitar

duration: 65'

Commissioned by the Cavatina Duo

Recordings: Cavatina Duo "Folias and Fantasias" (Bridge Records)

To get the printed score/parts or download in PDF format, please go to my Gumroad shop page




"Alan Thomas’s arrangement is a work of great imagination; more, it is a labor of love, clearly underpinned by unshakeable respect for Telemann’s genius. With all due apologies to Herr Telemann, I fear that once you hear these performances of his flute fantasias with guitar accompaniment, you will never want to hear them unaccompanied again." Fanfare magazine

“Thomas’ writing manages to avoid the impression of the guitar parts as mere accompaniment…Magically, pieces that work beautifully as solos work equally well as duets. Magically, pieces we know all too well are transformed yet retain their identity. This is arranging of great sensitivity, for which Alan Thomas must take great credit.”

"Thomas’ discrete guitar writing ‘supports’ (without ever being obtrusive or over emphatic) some of the harmonies Telemann can only imply – however brilliantly – and in doing so it also ‘supports’ the emotional impact. In places, too, subtle countermelodies are introduced. That sense of fugal writing which Telemann so brilliantly produces in the first Fantasia by having the flute seem to answer itself in different registers is reinforced by Thomas’ guitar writing. In this first fantasia, which is largely high-spirited and charmingly playful, not least in its closing minuet, the guitar adds a further dimension of explicit rhythm. Throughout all the considerable variety of Telemann’s twelve Fantasias this sensitive added guitar part (never over busy or assertive) consistently gives a new clarity to the music, rather than distracting from, or obscuring, the subtlety of Telemann’s writing." musicweb-international


Programme Note
Telemann’s Twelve Fantasias for flute without bass are one of the great staples of the solo flute repertoire. First published around 1730, the set of fantasias has been favourably compared to the unaccompanied works of J.S. Bach, and indeed its importance to the flute repertoire is similar to that of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier for keyboard instruments. As well as presenting flautists with the encyclopaedic challenge of playing in twelve different keys, the Fantasias come across as a virtual compendium of musical forms and textures as well being a masterclass in the creative invention of musical ideas and different ways of developing them. Telemann also moves through a huge range of emotional states and characters, (which Baroque music theorists referred to as Affekts), deploying different scales, keys, rhythms, melodic patterns and forms to evoke seemingly every contrasting mood and human emotion over the course of the work.

The work’s title makes clear that Telemann intended these works to be played by the flute without accompaniment; hence the Italian title’s reference to senza basso—i.e. without the standard basso continuo accompaniment part that we expect to find in a Baroque era instrumental composition. With this in mind, it might be asked “then why add a guitar part to them?!”. To reply that I was commissioned to do so by the Cavatina Duo is perhaps too facile an answer, though in retrospect I can say that it is a testament to the artistic vision of Eugenia Moliner and Denis Azabagic that they were able to imagine how effective the result could be of turning these solo Fantasias into duo works. In fact it was common practice in the Baroque period for composers to adapt their own works to different instrumental combinations, adding to or taking away from the music to suit the context—as J.S. Bach regularly demonstrated with his own compositions as well as those of others. With this in mind, as I delved further into these wonderful gems of the Baroque era I too became convinced of the duo’s idea that the addition of an accompanying harmonic/rhythmic part would cast a new and revealing light on these warhorses of the flute repertoire. The added guitar part helps to bring out latent aspects of the solo flute line, fleshing out implied harmonies, making the dances that bit more rhythmic, and heightening the work’s many Affekts. I hope that the result has lived up to the Cavatina Duo’s belief that this version of the piece could make a valuable contribution to the flute and guitar repertoire.