First published in the Guardian on 22 October, 2015
Georg Philipp Telemann was a canny operator. He published a magazine called The Faithful Music Master — first ever music journal in Germany — and kept subscribers hooked by drip-feeding sonatas in instalments. Keen readers were rewarded with chamber music full of dance rhythms and big melodies: this instrumental writing is supremely singable, and Pamela Thorby, one of today’s most boldly stylish and charismatic recorder players, makes every shapely line count. She’s bolstered by a spirited ensemble of Peter Whelan (bassoon), Alison McGillivray (cello), Elizabeth Kenny (archlute) and Marcin Swiatkiewicz (harpsichord), who bring a light touch and conversational spark to seven of the sonatas. Occasionally in group context the humble recorder seems too contained for Thorby’s hugely generous phrasing. For example, the opening movement of the Sonata in F-minor, TWV 41: F1 — instructively marked Triste — is so saturated with sentiment that things start to get woozy. Her solo Fantasias are absorbing: intimate, exploratory, captivating for the virtuosic way she can spin several lines of counterpoint at once.