Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656–1746) is often and unjustly consigned to a footnote in music history, and specifically in accounts of The Well-Tempered Clavier. Although Bach’s systematic collections of preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys demonstrates an unparalleled ingenuity and variety of expression, Fischer hit upon the idea first with his Ariadne musica Neo-Organoedum for organ, first published in 1702; in fact Bach reused several of Fischer’s themes.
This recording presents a selection of works from each of the two collections written by Fischer for harpsichord: Suites Nos. 5, 6 & 8 from the Pieces de Clavessin (1696), and Suites Nos. 1, 3, 6 & 9 of the Musikalischer Parnassus (1738). The earlier collection is one of the first collections of suites for harpsichord published in Germany. Each individual Praeludium starts with an unnamed movement, in the manner of a prelude (in German style, with features from the stylus phantasticus of Froberger and Buxtehude) and is followed by a series of dance movements. The Fifth Suite, though, comprises an aria with variations, and the last of the eight contains just a toccata-like prelude and a grandly assertive Chaconne.
More than four decades later, Fischer named each of the nine suites in the Musikalischer Parnassus after the nine Muses who inhabit that legendary mountain. Each suite mixes not only the distinct and familiar French, German and Italian stylistic traits but introduces English elements, so courtly dotted rhythms rub shoulders with well-worked counterpoint and cantabile melodies. This collection also this ends with a grand passacaglia, one of the most beautiful in harpsichord literature.
Tony Millán is a Spanish keyboard player, at home on both harpsichord and fortepiano, who teaches at the Royal Conservatoire in Madrid. His previous recordings include other Baroque rarities such as music by Duphly, as well as the Goldberg Variations.
Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656-1746) was born in Bohemia, and was active as a Kapellmeister at the Saxon-Lauenburg court for a staggering 60 years. Fischer introduced the French keyboard style to Germany, a sign of the German court’s efforts to emulate the grand way of living and culture of Versailles and its Sun King. His keyboard suites have French titles: Pièces de Clavessin, suites of courtly dances. His style is a fusion of the elaborate and ornamented French style and the German Stylus Phantasticus of his compatriots Froberger and Buxtehude. Tony Millán is one of Spain’s foremost keyboard players, he is equally at home in the Baroque as in the 20th century. He plays a magnificent copy of a Christian Vater harpsichord (1738), built by Andrea Restelli, using the Tartini-Vallotti temperament.
Liner notes written by the artist.