CD: “Fasch Orchestral Works, Volume 3”


…abundant energy, immaculate ensemble, impeccable intonation, and an undeniable sense of purpose

The music provides concrete evidence that Fasch was a composer of the first rank whose music has been unjustly neglected by recording companies. His confident and deft handling of resources, his ability to craft music that is melodically and harmonically interesting, and his fertile musical imagination all point in the direction of a major composer, whose music was allowed to waste away on the dusty shelves of libraries for far too long. The excellent sound—with exceptionally fine wind coloration—is true to the long-established Chandos tradition: wholly natural and with concert hall realism as well as ample room for the sound to bloom. The efforts of Tempesta di Mare on behalf of Fasch have met with generally positive responses from the musical press. The ensemble has now entered its second decade and is clearly one of the finest in the world. They perform with abundant energy, immaculate ensemble, impeccable intonation, and an undeniable sense of purpose, savoring every note as they plead the case for this unjustly neglected repertoire. Other adjectives that come to mind are: animated, colorful, and flexible. This release, like its two predecessors, has been realized with commitment and enthusiasm. Few could have made the case for Fasch as elegantly and as eloquently as Tempesta di Mare. They have fulfilled the task brilliantly!” Fanfare, January/February 2013.

“…superb performances; …highly recommended”

“Back in [issue] 35:4 I reviewed and commended Volume 2 in the ongoing series of recordings by the Philadelphia-based Baroque ensemble Tempesta di Mare devoted to the music of Johann Friedrich Fasch, and here we now have Volume 3. As before, all of the selections were recorded live during several concerts of the past season (with one work left over from the previous season), all of which I personally attended. In my previous review I praised the ensemble as “exemplary for its refined, balanced sound, subtle tonal colorings, precision of ensemble, and relaxed but never slack rhythmic pulse,” and the same holds true here as well. Let me add to that the superb performances by the players of the valveless brass instruments, who did not blow or lip a single note in any performance I attended. Recorder player Gwyn Roberts and lutenist Richard Stone provide utterly faultless accounts in their solo parts. The recorded sound faithfully captures the slightly resonant acoustic of the recording venue, the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. If you have the two previous releases in this series, you surely will wish to acquire this third one as well; if you are new to Fasch, this is an excellent means by which to make your acquaintance; highly recommended.” Fanfare, January/February 2013.

 “ ★★★★★ …essential listening

“A splendid collection of overtures and concertos by this unjustly neglected composer. Sparkling strings, punchy horns. With four premiere recordings, this is essential listening. ★★★★★BBC Music Magazine, November 2012.

…on par with many of Europe’s best Baroque ensembles. Recommended.

“This is the third release in an ongoing survey of Chandos specialist Early Music label Chaconne exploring the orchestral music of Johann Friedrich Fasch. It is once again expertly played by the Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, otherwise known as Tempesta di Mare. Although much of the greater part of Fasch’s output remains unfamiliar to this day, it would nevertheless be hard to overstate his reputation amongs his German Baroque contemporaries. Fasch’s personal style is as idiosyncratic as it is original. With the exception of two instrumental concertos (for recorder and lute), all the material surveyed here is entirely new to the catalogues. I borrowed a copy of a disc entitled ‘The Virtuoso Recorder’ as a comparison for Gwyn Roberts’s new account of the Recorder Concerto in F and found the new version more alluring and polished than its rival, with a fuller-sounding orchestral accompaniment than afforded by the Capella Academica Frankfurt for Michael Schneider. The D minor Lute Concerto is likewise already in the catalogues and, while I was unable to locate a rival version for comparison, it would have to be very good indeed to better this newcomer from lutenist Richard Stone. As to the rest, none of which has been previously recorded, there are some pleasant surprises in store. Particularly striking is the spirited and ceremonial Ouverture in D, which showcases three trumpets and timpani to particularly grand effect, and affords ample opportunities for the Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra to show its mettle. Its playing is consistently highly accomplished and on this evidence the ensemble is technically on par with many of Europe’s best Baroque ensembles. All the performances derive from Tempesta di Mare’s public concert series held at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The venue is clearly ideal, with a warmly transparent but never over-reverberant acoustic, permitting every instrumental line and thematic strand to register clearly, while loud tutti sections never become overwhelming. Audience noice is minimal and the recording certainly has all the verve, frisson and excitement that a public concert normally generates. Engaging and committed playing and an informative booklet note from Fasch scholar Barbara M. Reul should certainly leave you wanting to hear more of this composer. Recommended.” International Record Review, November 2012.

I am totally delighted…

“Anyone expecting a rave review can relax. I heard Tempesta di Mare play some of this programme live at the Fasch Festtage in Zerbst last year, so I knew that the recording (the third and final of a series for Chandos) would be something special. I am totally delighted with the finished product — two fabulous suites and four concertos (including the quite recently rediscovered recorder concerto) make up a rich and varied programme that show the wide range of the composer’s “orchestral” output; if the recorder concerto (deftly played by Gwyn Roberts) seems quite an early work, the lute concerto (in a splendidly limpid reading from the group’s other director, Richard Stone) is ground-cutting rococo, with its so-not plodding bass, sumptuous chords and intricate ornamentation (some of it improvised by the performer). Each of the movements of the suites has its own individual character and the dance movements really do dance. The instrumental palette is a rich one — three trumpets with timps, a pair of horns, flutes, oboes and bassoons, combined with a modest string ensemble (pretty much the Hofkapelle of Dresden for whom most of the works were surely written, and that in Darmstadt where some of the source material survives). I cannot deny that I am sad there will be no more [Fasch] recordings — I envy those of you lucky enough to be within travelling distance of Philadelphia, where Fasch will continue to feature in TdM programmes, I am sure.” Early Music Review (UK), October 2012.

…convivial from start to finish

“A friend of Telemann and enthusiast for Vivaldi whose own music was admired by Bach, Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688–1758) has experienced a modest revival of fortunes. None of his music was printed in his lifetime, but a slow trickle of enjoyable recordings of his orchestral overtures and concertos has revealed a craftsman of considerable talent and imagination. The third volume devoted to Fasch by Philadelphia’s hard-working Tempesta di Mare orchestra contains premiere recordings of several works. The programme commences splendidly with an Ouverture in D major (FWV K:D2) featuring two braying horns, three bold trumpets and thunderous timpani playing with (and against) woodwinds and strings. Co-director Roberts takes the spotlight in an amiable recorder concerto until recently miscatalogued in New York Public Library under the name ‘Rasch’; her cantabile playing is supported by gently murmuring strings in the concluding Allegro. Most of the time F major and D major galant music abounds and that no bad thing when Tempesta di Mare’s performances are thoughtfully convivial from start to finish. There are plenty of surprising twists and inventions in deceptively clever slow movements (the charming dialogue between pairs of flutes and oboes in the first movements of FWV L:D8). The penultimate work showcased here is a welcome change of tonality and sonority for the Lute Concerto in D minor, featuring rippling solos from co-director Richard Stone.” Gramophone “Awards Issue,” September 2012.

…splendid renditions, virtuosic technique, suave interpretations…”

“Tempesta’s ongoing survey of Fasch’s instrumental music continues the ensemble’s compelling project of bringing to the public’s attention the works of an unfairly overlooked Baroque master. The ouvertures and concerti performed on Volume 3 are masterfully conceived and eloquently delineated. Fasch’s sense of melody and scoring is exemplary The acoustics of the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill are nigh on perfect for Tempesta’s gut-strung strings, wooden woodwinds and period brass: enveloping their sounds with supportive resonance yet enabling their bright colors to shine forth. Hearing the CD easily enables the listener to imagine the aristocratic salons in which the music was first heard. Tempesta’s leaders — Gwyn Roberts, Richard Stone and Emlyn Ngai — preside over splendid renditions of virtuosic technique and suave interpretations.” Chestnut Hill LOCAL, September 2012.

“ ★★★★★ ”

“ ★★★★★… The Philadelphia-based ensemble Tempesta di Mare is to be commended for their efforts in resurrecting interest in the fine German composer Johann Friedrich Fasch. If you don’t know Fasch, you ought to. A contemporary of Bach, Fasch’s music is deliciously robust, never predictable, filled with catchy melodies and laced with interesting rhythmic and harmonic turns. This is music that will certainly appeal to fans of Handel’s Water Music, Telemann’s Tafelmusik and the Bach Orchestral Suites. [Gwyn] Roberts is the terrific soloist in the [Recorder] Concerto in F major, a deliciously Italianate work that apparently was only rediscovered in the New York Public Library after being erroneously cataloged. Roberts’ dexterity and warm woody tone are captivating. Fasch had a knack for orchestral color and the Concerto in D major, particularly the Andante with its lovely flute, violin, oboe and continuo scoring, is a fine example. [Richard] Stone and Tempesta di Mare have made a great record of lute concertos by Silvius Weiss, and shades of Weiss hover about Fasch’s [Lute] Concerto in D minor. Stone’s fluid playing is thrilling and in the central Andante, downright poetic. The all-around excellence of these performances will do much to prove that there are some talented period instrument performers on our side of the Atlantic. Tempesta di Mare has been making gorgeous Baroque music for a decade and is the only American group to record on the English Chandos label. This wonderful Fasch album shows us why.Ariama, September 2012.