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Born in 1688, Fasch spent his formative musical years in Leipzig, where he became friends with Stölzel, Pisendel, Heinichen and Graupner – the latter pair, like Fasch, studied at the Thomasschule under Bach’s predecessor, Kuhnau. In the 1720s Fasch tried to establish a music exchange network, allowing composers to circulate scores, which may explain why much of his surviving music is located at Dresden and Darmstadt, where his friends worked, rather than at Anhalt-Zerbst, where he was Kapellmeister from 1722 until his death in 1758.

Although a violinist himself, Fasch wrote extensively for woodwinds, particularly the bassoon, possibly inspired by the Vivaldi concertos he heard in Prague when working for Count Morzin, an avid collector of the Red Priest’s scores. This new Ensemble Marsyas CD features a quirky bassoon concerto, plus four finely crafted quartets for bassoon, two oboes and continuo. There is also a quartet apiece for horn and recorder (each with oboe, violin and continuo), and a dashing recorder concerto recently discovered in the New York Public Library, where it had been misfiled under ‘Rasch’! Bassoonist Peter Whelan is outstanding, although the whole group plays with uncanny rapport, turning Fasch’s smart blends of instrumental timbres, baroque and galant styles, elegant Largos and frisky, virtuosic Allegros, into a stream of unalloyed listening pleasure.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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