The year 2012 marks the tercentenary of the birth of Frederick the Great, whose political and military glory has often relegated his musical talent to the status of a mere hobby. But Frederick II was not only the key personality of Berlin musical life for the whole of the 18th century – as is shown by the works of the composers presented on this CD, all of whom worked at his court at some point in their careers – but also an excellent flautist who left posterity a number of fine flute sonatas from his own pen.
Johann Friedrich Fasch was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, and that has seriously hampered the interest in his music. It was the German musicologist Hugo Riemann, who at the beginning of the 20th century made an attempt to restore his reputation.
In his own time he was a man of fame, whose works were known far beyond the regions where he worked. One of the most important of these was the time he spent in Leipzig. He became a member of the Thomasschule at the age of 13. He came under the influence of Georg Philipp Telemann, who arrived in Leipzig at the same time. Fasch, who had taught himself to play the keyboard and the violin, started to compose like Telemann, which he did with so much success that some of his works were performed by the Collegium Musicum. In Leipzig he also got to know music from elsewhere in Europe, in particular the concertos of Vivaldi.
Hans Werner Henze has written in virtually every standard musical form, but his chamber music is generally not among his best-known work. The composer is especially fond of the guitar and has included it in a number of his scores. This album, originally released in 1995, includes three pieces written between 1974 and 1986 that prominently feature the guitar, and one, Royal Winter Music II: Second Sonata on Shakespearean Characters, is for solo guitar.
I heard many great performances of Mozart's Piano Sonatas including: Uchida, Arrau, Wurtz, Eschenbach, Horowitz, and Kempff to name few. But Gulda's tone and interpretation is exceptionally unique, he plays Mozart with full involvement, dedication, passion and inspiration I've never heard from any other player. Those tapes shed the light on a great artist at his most intimate moment of work, as those tapes were supposed to be personal and not intended for public, and hence the sound quality is not top notch but it's worth it considering the legendary performance.
Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) was a forward-looking musician who, though a contemporary of Bach, anticipated Haydn and Mozart in the classical style of his compositions. In his younger years he held several positions before he became the music director for the chapel at the court in Zerbst, where he remained for 36 years. He also enjoyed a close connection with Dresden musicians, chiefly with the concertmaster of the Dresden court orchestra, Pisendel. These works are thought to have been some of Fasch's many compositions for the famous orchestra at Dresden.
Two of these are three-movement works called overtures; these represent a kind of "overture symphony" that Fasch created himself. Two string symphonies and two concertos are included also, the concertos showing the influence of Vivaldi, whom Fasch admired. With the exception of one symphony, which has four movements, every work here has three.(Ardella Crawford)