Fesca

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COMPOSERS: Fesca
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Septets No. 1; Septet No. 2
PERFORMER: Linos Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: 999 617-2
Schumann’s discussion of some early piano pieces by Alexander Fesca (1820-49) in his Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (1840) furnished ‘a glimpse into a rich, if not yet controlled musical mind’. One year later, Schumann doubted that Fesca’s potential would ever be fully realised (‘if he continues to indulge his own aspirations, we must regard him as lost’), and history’s verdict has proved him right.

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Almost entirely unrepresented on disc, it’s helpful to have some examples of Fesca’s music available, and these capable accounts of his two septets from the Linos Ensemble make out an unexpectedly strong case for these neglected works. Both are scored for the combination of piano, oboe, horn, violin, viola, cello and bass. Their models were piano septets by Beethoven’s disciples Ferdinand Ries, Moscheles and Kalkbrenner, who took their lead from the famous Op. 20 work by Beethoven himself which, nterestingly, had no piano part.

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Fesca’s milieu was that of the post-Beethovenian virtuoso pianist/composer, which explains the mini piano concerto feel of these septets, if not their rather uninspired themes and entirely routine structure. These performances, however, are diligent and dedicated, and the truthful recording is spacious and nicely detailed. Not music you’d call defining, certainly, but worth an occasional hearing. Michael Jameson