Johann Friedrich Fasch: Overture Symphonies

Les Amies de Philippe, Ludger Rémy
75:27
cpo 777 952-2
FWV K: D1, D2, F4, G5 & G21

Ludger Rémy was recently awarded the Fasch-Preis der Stadt Zerbst/Anhalt in recognition of his work over decades in promoting and recording the music of Johann Friedrich, who spent the last 36 years of his life in the service of the court there. This latest recording was made in Zerbst around the time of the 2013 Fasch-Festtage, with some of the repertoire also featured in a concert that was broadcast live.

To me the term “Overture Symphony” is slightly superfluous, and stems from a German “need” to categorize everything. Essentially, the five works on the CD are expanded versions of a French overture, slow movement and triple time dance like many Baroque opera overtures. The fact that Fasch uses elements of ritornello form and throws in concertato passages for the wind instruments (which feature prominently in most of his music) makes for a grander overall scale – overture G21, which just has oboes and bassoon, runs to almost 20 minutes! Three pieces (F4, G5 and D1) are recorded for the first time; the second of those has four horns – two in G and two in D – and three oboes, and Fasch makes full use of the available sonorities.

It would be a real shame if, as Manfred Fechner excellent booklet notes suggest, these works were never performed in Dresden (where they survive today,* and where Fasch’s friend and colleague, Pisendel, was in charge of music at court until his death in 1755) as there is some very fine music here, and Les Amis de Philippe really do it justice on this bright recording. Perhaps they will now move on to the sinfonias proper?

Brian Clark

*The booklet includes web references to all digitized versions of all five, so you can play along if you like.