Eight Suites of 1698
J. C. F. Fischer – perhaps J. S. Bach’s most important mentor, and 15 years his senior, gave Bach the concept of a set of preludes and fugues in all the keys. He even borrowed some themes from Fischer’s fugues and reworked preludes from these suites, for use in the Well-tempered Clavier.
Bach also found inspiration in Fischer’s published works, for a new, ambitious and varied kind of
keyboard suite, and his four orchestral suites were clearly inspired by Fischer’s successful suites,
influenced by French models.
None of this would have happened, had Fischer’s music not also been of the highest quality and
originality. The 1698 set, titled in German Blumen-büchlein (Little book of Flowers), was published
when Fischer was only 25. Each suite offers a surprise, yet they form a coherent whole.
These wonderful pieces were recorded using two harpsichords, both of which have a particularly
beautiful tone, and which were made in Colin’s workshop.
BRADLEY LEHMAN American Record Guide:
These are Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer’s suites from 1698. He first published them in 1696, but reissued them in an expanded edition as “Little Flower Bushes”. The suites sometimeshave the conventional dances, some substitutions, or none: Suite 5 is only a prelude and a set of variations.
His other sets of suites from 40 years later are better known than these. Those are a “Musical Parnassus” of nine suites named for the Muses. They are more readily available in recordings—for example, from Luc Beausejour on Naxos, May/June 2000. Beausejour included the early suites 2+8 as filler for the Parnassus. Tony Millan recorded suites 5, 6, and 8 (Brilliant, Jan/Feb 2017). Beyond playing the other early Flower Bushes suites 1, 3, 4, and 7 myself, I have not heard them until Colin Booth’s welcome complete set.
These performances are persuasive, catching the balance of French and German styles. For the rarely recorded repertoire and the musical charm, this is an important release and an easy recommendation.
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