Notes and Editorial Reviews
Overture grosso in D,
FWV K: D 8.
Concertos: in D,
FWV L: D 15;
FWV L: B 3.
Andante in D,
FWV l: D 15 (bis)
Richard Stone, cond; Tempesta di Mare (period instruments)
CHANDOS 751 (59:36)
This year marks the 250th anniversary of the death of Johann Friedrich Fasch, another of those gifted
and once-respected contemporaries of Sebastian Bach, whose star shines so brightly that he has eclipsed many of his gifted colleagues. There have been a few recordings of Fasch’s music in the anniversary year, but not nearly as many as there could have been, or need to be if we are to truly appreciate the gifts of this minor master.
Fasch learned his craft from Johann Kuhnau at St. Thomas’s School in Leipzig where he also founded and directed a
After serving two years as the musical equivalent of a modern medical intern and a brief tenure in Prague, Fasch settled at the court of Zerbst. With the exception of a period from the fall of 1726 to the spring of 1727, when he was in Dresden on the 18th-century equivalent of the modern-day sabbatical, Fasch spent much of his professional life at the Zerbst court. In 1728, Fasch initiated and maintained a significant exchange of scores between his place of employment and other courts. Chief among these was Dresden, where the court archives—at least those that survived the ravages of time and the horrors of World War II—contain over a third of Fasch’s surviving 300 works, second only to their holdings of Georg Philipp Telemann. Fasch’s Dresden contacts included two of his former Zerbst cohorts, Johann Georg Pisendel, the Dresden orchestra’s concertmaster, and composer Johann David Heinichen; they were instrumental in acquainting Fasch with the musical tastes of the Dresden court, allowing him to create tailor-made compositions.
Many of Fasch’s scores held in Dresden were moved to vaults during the Second World War, but the shock waves from Allied bombing fractured the underground storage, allowing ground water to enter, damaging much of the material. Fasch’s surviving works include 69 orchestral suites, 23 concertos, 19 sinfonias, and 32 sonatas. The lion’s share of the music transmitted to Dresden by Fasch consisted of orchestral suites (
) in the French style and concertos—and included material pressed into service by Tempesta di Mare for this recording.
Someone once said, “There’s Bach; then there are other Baroque composers.” The implication in this statement is obvious and to a degree true. But if we audition every recording of Baroque music with an ear that expects—perhaps demands—the genius of Bach, we will surely be disappointed. Even placing aside Handel and Telemann, there were many other gifted composers of the period, including Johann Christoph Graupner, Jan Dismas Zelenka, and Johannn Friedrich Fasch who—like Bach—labored, not for posterity, but for the moment and have been passed over for a variety of reasons. It has fallen to the small period-instrument bands—including Tempesta di Mare—to exhume, perform, and record the music of these
and therefore plead their case in the court of public opinion.
Even though this isn’t Bach, it is quite good. Though there are few surprises and while some moments recall Handel and Telemann, the well-written music has its own personality and charm. It was written to entertain, not to stimulate deep thought or to arouse debate as to its meaning, and Tempesta di Mare doesn’t lose sight of that purpose, delivering the goods with grace, energy, and style. The concert performances are fresh, vibrant, and spontaneous, representing the perfect marriage between musical instinct and meticulous scholarship.
I don’t know what waits for us in terms of future recordings by Tempesta di Mare, but I’m certainly willing to be patient, especially if content and commitment are even half this good.
FANFARE: Michael Carter
Works on This Recording
Overture in D major, FWV K:D8 by Johann Friedrich Fasch
Gwyn Roberts (Flute),
Emlyn Ngai (Violin),
Richard Stone (Archlute)
Tempesta di Mare
Length: 24 Minutes 7 Secs.
Andante in D Major, FWV L:D15bis by Johann Friedrich Fasch
Gwyn Roberts (Flute),
Richard Stone (Archlute),
Emlyn Ngai (Violin)
Tempesta di Mare
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs.
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