Notes and Editorial Reviews
Overture (Suite) in a,
FWV K: a1.
Concerti: in D,
FWV L: D5;
FWV L: G13.
Sinfonia in g
, FWV M: g1
Tempesta di Mare (period instruments)
CHANDOS CHAN 0783 (74:12)
Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688–1758), as my grandmother would have said, came by music honestly. He belonged to a respected and
distinguished line of Lutheran theologians and cantors. Following early musical instruction in Suhl and Weissenfels, Fasch was recruited by Kuhnau for the Leipzig Thomasschule. While a student at the university in Leipzig, Fasch founded a collegium musicum that rivaled the prominence of the Thomasschule in Leipzig’s musical life. It was here that the young Fasch discovered the concertos of Vivaldi, a composer who exercised a profound influence on not only Fasch but many other composers of his generation, including Bach and Telemann.
To further his musical education, Fasch began a long journey, stopping in several European courts and cities. He eventually arrived in Darmstadt, where he studied with Christoph Graupner. Thereafter Fasch held several positions, reluctantly ending his trek in Zerbst in 1722, a position he held for 36 years until his death. That same year and following the death of his mentor Kuhnau, Fasch was invited to apply for Thomaskantor in Leipzig, but withdrew from the competition as did his friend Telemann. The post went to a man by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Because of the prominence accorded Sebastian Bach in the 19th century, Fasch received little or no attention from musicologists. In the early years of the 20th century and based on his acquaintance with several of Fasch’s suites, Hugo Riemann declared Fasch to be one of the most important innovators in the transitional period between Bach and Haydn. Riemann noted that it was Fasch who “set instrumental music entirely on its feet and displaced fugal writing with modern ‘thematic’ style.” In the intervening years since Riemann’s bold statement, research has proven him correct, and the synthesis of Baroque and Classical elements allowed Fasch to create a new music language using traditional forms.
Fasch’s concertos—of which 64 survive—exhibit the evolution from Baroque to Classical. Most follow the Italian form, a fast-slow-fast sequence, but sometimes Fasch interrupts the proceedings in the
with woodwind figurations that are unrelated to what is going one.
The suites—between 80 and 90 of these are still around in various locales—follow the traditional Lullian form, except that the fugues in the opening movements are occasionally interfered with by contrasting woodwind episodes. The airs, allegros, and andantes that follow, as well as other movements inserted between the dances, are equally “modern.”
This is the second disc of Fasch released by Chandos with Tempesta di Mare, the Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra. I reviewed the first in
32: 1, noting that Tempesta “deliver(s) the goods with grace, energy, and elegance” in “performances that are fresh, vibrant, and spontaneous.” This release continues the tradition; it is full of vitality and elegance, not to mention a stylishness that is difficult to equal, let along surpass. The recordings are actual concert performances from 2010 and 2011 and are cloaked in the wonderful sonic aura of the Presbyterian Church, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.
Now a decade old, Tempesta is one of America’s
period-instrument bands. They are regular visitors to American Public Media’s
, heard nationwide on NPR, and both of their recordings should be a part of your collection.
FANFARE: Michael Carter
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