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The British Clavichord Society Newsletter

Julian Perkins

No. 52, February 2012

Carl Christian Friedrich Fasch: Six Sonatas,
ed. Christopher Hogwood.
Edition HH (HH.300.SOL).
Price 30 (www.editionhh.co.uk)


Born in Zerbst, Carl Fasch (1736-1800) came to be regarded as the successor to C. P. E. Bach at the court of Frederick the Great. Kirnberger glowingly described Fasch's playing: 'I have never heard Sebastian [Bach's] music better played than by him, and the music of the Hamburg Bach he played even better.' Despite this, Fasch is reputed to have been something of a recluse, whose self-criticism led him to destroy many of his own compositions.

Christopher Hogwood continues his excellent series of editions for Edition HH with this publication of Fasch's Six Sonatas, the first volume in a projected Complete Keyboard Works. These pieces date from around the 1760s. Each was published individually during the composer's lifetime, but they only appeared together as a set in 1805, five years after his death.

In style the music is perhaps somewhere between C. P. E. and early Beethoven, but less technically difficult than the latter. As one might expect, there is a lucidity to the texture with part-writing that is largely in two or three parts.

This edition is both practical and elegant; the volume opens out easily since it is spiral-bound in metal (rather than plastic which often snaps). The music is printed on good-quality cream-coloured paper, which is less tiring on the eye than white paper. There is a useful introduction in both English and German replete with a biographical overview of the composer, table of ornaments, description of the sources, editorial method, and a section on performance issues and instruments - including a contemporaneous review that discusses whether the clavichord or the fortepiano would be most appropriate for performance. Five facsimiles from the composer's autographs and the 1756 Haffner edition of Sonata No. 1 are sprinkled through the volume, which concludes with sixteen pages of critical commentary. Alternative versions are occasionally provided within the music itself, and both versions of the third sonata's concluding Presto are included.

Given how user-friendly this edition is, it might have been welcome to indicate the range (often over five octaves) at the start of each sonata. In an ideal world, a protective plastic cover could prove useful. But these trifling observations are only given in the light of my belief in this brilliant edition's imminent popularity.

We are grateful to Julian Perkins and the editor of The British Clavichord Society Newsletter for permission to reproduce this review.
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