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Georg Philipp Telemann: Fantasie n° 1 in B-Flat major, TWV 40:14 – Fantasie n° 4 in D major, TWV 40:17 – Fantasie n° 5 in A major, TWV 40:18
Franz Schubert: Fantasie in C major, D934
Tessa Lark: Appalachian Fantasy
Fritz Kreisler: Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta
Maurice Ravel: Tzigane – Rhapsodie de concert

Tessa Lark (violin), Amy Yang (piano)
Recording: Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City (April 8-10, 2019) – 66’42
First Hand Records # FHR86 – Booklet in English

Flights of fancy are surrounded by certain degrees of semi-permeable musical membranes. Such freedom of form is a pleasant way to be introduced to the liberties held within the reaches of Tessa Lark. In her first-ever release, “Fantasy” draws upon certain elements of independence, though the disciplines of structure and mechanics are firmly intact. What gives Mlle Lark’s preclusive appeal is her spectrum of classical commands along with classical repertoire variability.

The tripartite of Telemann Fantasies is a vast exercise of free-faring tempos, richly balanced and cleanly distinguished. For example, the opening Fantasie n° 1 determinates Lark’s shift in mood and cadence. Flushed by pure elegance, however, the young violinist ‘turns on a dime’ in visual light of defined distinction, giving indelible shading to Telemann’s music.

Beautifully tempered between Tessa Lark's violin and Amy Yang's piano we find ourselves enveloped inside Franz Schubert’s Fantasie in C major. Transitioning through seven sections, Yang’s and Lark’s commingling speaks with crystalline energy, wavering between pockets of firm severity and eloquent retreats. Shaded by vestiges of the Forellenquintett, this composition, one of Schubert’s longest single movements, generates such wholesome ebullience and dignified stylization. Listening to this duo never tires the ear during these seamless Schubertian variations.

Transitioning from the supremely nuanced Schubert, we find ourselves amidst home grown fields, panning about Lark’s warm, familial Kentucky roots. Tessa Lark’s Bluegrass melody, Appalachian Fantasy, acts as the album’s counterbalance cover, more softened and less-formalized…a potency that quietly glows with a Bonaparte’s Retreat élan, eventually passaging into a roughened Cumberland Gap outline with a splitting dash of Copeland’s Hoedown. Those of us who’ve lived in the South [as is with this reviewer] will smile proudly at her Appalachian Fantasy. While refreshingly ‘Americana local’ distinct, it begs impressive arguments as to how this young lady steps through that revolving door, leading back into classical music’s œuvres fantastiques.

The most arresting compositions come during the Amy Yang interface. The latter’s dulcet perspectives provide fundamentals in helping bridge musical characterizations. Fritz Kriesler’s Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta is one of the best marriages: Amy Yang’s fortified backdrop allows Tessa Lark to glide upon the quirky folds of Kreisler’s music. This ‘foxy’ piece saturates with pungent tones, plated by a torte of dreamy Viennese spirit: the combination pleasingly serves.

Saving the best for last is the Tzigane. Tessa Lark pulls from Ravel’s score a sharp, sinewy mesmerism and seductive innuendos: her pizzicati prickles capriciously outside Amy Yang’s folds. The Basque composer’s ’recette hongroise’ bleeds through the wall with scherzo-driven whimsy while motored by a Paganini-esque perpetuum mobile: Mlle Lark’s ending drives the point across well.

First Hand Records’ flawless acoustical quality enables Tessa Lark to prevail and dominate the sound field...lovely rendered and securely tethered.

Christie Grimstad




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