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Quite breathtaking

the suites and double horn concerto
of Johann Friedrich Fasch

edel/Berlin Classics    0021522BC

Johann Friedrich Fasch Ouvertüren (c) 1999 edel records GmbH


I defy the casual listener to distinguish this from Telemann, Bach or Handel. Fasch, born at Buttelstadt near Weimar, was initially self-taught, then studied with Graupner in Darmstadt and went on to become court composer at Zerbst, halfway between Magdeburg and Luther's Wittenberg. A pupil of the famous Leipzig Thomasschule, he was even head-hunted (like many others) for Leipzig on Kuhnau's death, but -- so the story has it -- failed on his Latin teaching abilities, thus opening the way for Bach.

It was the French-style Ouverture, especially as exemplified by the Suites of Telemann, Bach and Handel, which Fasch made a speciality. The quality of his D minor and B flat major suites, recorded here, is quite breathtaking : the final passepied of that in B flat alone sounds as fresh as if it had just come from Bach's pen. Like Telemann he makes telling use of quite elaborate woodwind set against the string tutti not just in soloist-like concertante passages but so as to adduce particularly striking timbres overall. The slightly less interesting D minor employs a bevy of woodwinds : the sprightly Gavotte and measured second Air fare well, and the use of soft flute and harpsichord in the Minuet II is especially attractive. In the B flat major, it's a case of one treat after another : a superbly striding Bourrée; alluring flutes for the Air; a pair of charmingly courtly, almost comic bassoons following the strutting, memorable recapitulated Minuet I.

There is very good playing indeed from Güttler's Saxon players on this Dresden recording, and the city's Lukas Church acoustic serves them extremely advantageously. There's a marvellously direct, thrusting quality to the tutti throughout, and the central work, the Concerto in D giving particular emphasis to two hunting horns, is a delight from start to finish : if someone said it was the missing movements from Handel's Water Music, I'd honestly believe them. Highly recommended.


Copyright © 14 February 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK







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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews