I was not too inspired when listening to the first tracks on this disc, the first suite by long-lived Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656-1746). The notes inform me that he was greatly regarded in his time (but how often have we heard that before), and was one of the first to bring the virtues of French performance into Germany. The model for the suite was Lully, which explains my aversion, as I am not much of a Lully fan. But once those ten minutes passed, the melodious and exceptionally beautiful strains of his St. Michael the Archangel mass made up for any previous shortcomings. It is rather strange that the notes to this release concentrate on the small suite, and almost seem to make light of the two substantial masses that make up over 55 minutes of this well-fed disc.
But it’s the masses that are the reason for purchase. Apparently he wrote twelve, and was hesitant to publish them because he might not make a profit, and evidently cost was an important consideration at the time, seeing as how Bohemia was in a state of war, and the court, composer, and the musicians of the area lived in uncertain times. Evidently the composer’s skill in keyboard instruments (“one of the most capable clavier players of his time”) kept him in good stead, and even the great J.S. Bach was known to have possessed some of his works.
The playing on this disc, period instruments all, is sterling, as is the singing. The music sells itself, is a nice bridge between Bach and the French school, and we may have a true case of an unknown genius uncovered. Since many of his works are lost we may never know, but in the meantime this release provides a tantalizing teaser. The surround sound is warm and ingratiating.
— Steven Ritter
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