- Ouverture (Suite) in D minor, FWV K:d5
- Passio Jesu Christe, FWV F:1 "Brockes-Passion"
Johann Friedrich Fasch: Passio Jesu Christiby Mary Terey-Smith
It has been a difficult task for musicologists to get a grip on Johann Friedrich Fasch. Although based in Zerbst for most of his long life -- he was born three years after Handel and died one year before -- Fasch's voluminous work is scattered throughout the archives of Europe and dedicated diligence has been required to make sense of its scope. To most listeners who are aware of Fasch at all, he is merely the composer whose trumpet concerto filled out the Erato disc featuring Jean-François Paillard's popular recording of Pachelbel's "Canon in D." Fasch is a far more interesting composer than just that would imply. A one-time student of Johann Kuhnau also strongly influenced by Georg Philipp Telemann, Fasch often thought outside the Baroque box and had a uniquely individual style that emphasized variety. In reference to his sacred vocal music, a genre in which Fasch produced hundreds of works, one usually reads "most of it is lost." One that is not is his "Brockes-Passion, Passio Jesu Christi FWV F:1," wjoc is the featured work on Naxos' Fasch: Passio Jesu Christi. This Hungarian recording features a fine rank of vocal soloists, including the redoubtable Maria Zádori, the Schola Cantorum Budapestiensis, and "Capella Savaria" under the direction of Mary Térey-Smith. The "Overture (Suite) in D minor" that opens the disc is one of 87 that survive by Fasch, and one aspect of it that is immediately apparent is how little it sounds like Telemann -- it is cool, restrained, easygoing, and decidedly pre-classical in its approach. What is more surprising is that it is thought to date from the late 1720s and may have been commissioned for the court in Dresden -- a little ahead of the advent of classical style even in Italy. Fasch's penchant for being ahead of the curve is likewise demonstrated by his setting of the passion text by Barthold Heinrich Brockes, which dates from 1717-18; it had only been set the first time by Reinhard Keiser in 1712. The better-known settings of this text -- by Handel, Telemann, and its partial use by Johann Sebastian Bach in his "St. John Passion" -- all came later. It survives in two manuscripts, one in Chicago and the other in Leipzig, and both were probably copied after Fasch had died; Mary Térey-Smith elected to edit the Leipzig version for this performance. Like Fasch's Overture, this "Passion" is unadorned, never fussy, relatively free of contrapuntal business, and quite straightforward in its presentation; the chorales are especially lovely. The soloists are fine, particularly Maria Zádori, whose voice lightens up the restrained atmosphere of the performance every time it is heard. One qualm though; Térey-Smith's direction is so cautious that the music only seldom sparkles, and several times the passion gets dangerously close to being boring, though it never quite arrives there. With 2008 being the Semiquincentennial of Fasch's death, expect more to come, although in sum, Naxos' Fasch: Passio Jesu Christi is a generally pleasing example of Fasch's vocal music.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsMary Terey-Smith Primary Artist
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