For the small scene of viola da gamba players, 2015 has been an unforgettable year.
Until a few years ago, only one piece for viola da gamba solo by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) was available: a five-movement sonata from ‘Der getreue Musik-Meister’. In 2016, twelve ‘Fantasias’ written for this instrument by this well-known Baroque composer were discovered in a library in Osnabrück. The pieces date from 1735 and were considered lost for many years. Remarkably, Telemann himself also played the viola da gamba.
Dutchman Ralph Rousseau Meulenbroeks himself once included the earlier Telemann sonata “Der getreue Musik-Meister” on his first album “Voix Humaines. Since then, the gamba player is many productions ahead and among the international top. “…The beauty is magnetic… (NRC), “…hushed sounds…serrated passion…” (The Telegraph) … those who hear him play know that all resistance is futile …” Het Parool), … a breath of fresh air … utterly unorthodox … (HP/De Tijd).
“I spent two years memorizing all the Fantasias. At several concerts I performed parts, but only recently did I play them all in sequence,” Ralph Rousseau says. “For me, this new recording completes a circle. Telemann’s earlier sonata is on my first CD and the newest one will feature all twelve ‘Fantasias.’ Pieces that no one can tell you how to play. There are only a few general tempo indications in the score. This gives so much space that it is almost a blank canvas on which to paint. Nor do I want to know how they have since been interpreted by other players, since the new 2016 edition.
"Passionate folk dances are next to humble lamentations and inventive polyphony."
Frits van der Waa, de Volkskrant
"[Ralph Rousseau] follows the (excellent!) footsteps of other viola da gamba players, but adds more to his interpretation’s dance-like character […] aided by the brilliant recording in TRPTK style."
Aart van der Wal, Opus Klassiek
"Telemann never gets boring, even for a single moment. Definitely also thanks to Rousseau, who lets his six-string [viola da] gamba by Georg Aman sing and speak, with expressive extremes without hunting for effects, as well as a rhetorical expressive power without any artificial allures."
Eddie Vetter, Klassieke Zaken