Fasch: Orchestral Suites (CD review)

Pal Nemeth, Capella
Savaria. Dynamic DM8029.

Who?  German
violinist, composer, and kapellmeister Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) was
another of those artists that audiences and critics respected during his
lifetime but whose music soon faded into obscurity after his death. Remember,
there were no phonograph records and no radio or television to keep the musical
arts alive, and with changing attitudes in music, changing instruments, and
changing orchestral sizes, older ideas often died or got lost along with their
composers. Critics of Fasch’s day thought so much of the man, they would often
hold his music in the same regard as that of Bach and Telemann. The present disc
contains three of his orchestral compositions representative of his work.

The Suite in F major,
a six-movement suite, starts with a typically French-sounding overture. Played
by the Capella Savaria, a Hungarian period-instruments ensemble under the
directorship of Pal Nemeth, the suite displays a pleasing and lively spirit.
After the overture, there continue the usual dances and interludes: airs,
bourrées, gavottes, plaisanteries (amusing pleasantries), and, of course,
minuets, which end each suite.

For me, the most-delightful work on the program is the
little Suite in D major, also in six
movements. It has a most-regal and stately overture that is quite fetching.
Nemeth then infuses the rest of the suite with an equal charm. The music is
light and flowing, never raucous, edgy, or annoying in any way, the airs
particularly lyrical and sweet, especially the second one.

The disc concludes with the longest of the selections, the
Suite in A minor, containing ten
movements. If one is listening to the album straight through, yet another of
these sets may be a bit much, but taken one suite at a time, they can be quite
satisfying. Anyhow, the A minor Suite
starts in a more serious fashion than the others, finally giving way to a
breezier, rhythmic pulse and more courtly moods. As before, the Capella Savaria
play with vigor and finesse, and Maestro Nemeth’s direction appears impeccable.

Recorded at Saleszianer Theater, Szombathely, Hungary in
1999 and re-released by the Dynamic label in 2012, the sound is warmly and
spaciously vibrant. The theater exhibits a rich, resplendent resonance, and
together with the engineers capturing a good left-to-right and front-to-back
image, the sonics are as lifelike as possible. The idea here was not to
reproduce the most-transparent midrange but the most-realistic overall
impression.  In this regard, one must
count the recording a success.


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