BMC 28

Johann Josef FUX
Chamber Music

1.  Partita a Tre in g minor for two violins & continuo
    Ouverture - Entree - Menuet - Siciliana - Giga
    Jürg-Wolfgang Jahn & Gudrun Hermann, violins, with
    Jürgen Wolf, cello and Marga Scheurich, harpsichord.

2.  Ciacona in D Major Air with Thirty Variations
    Michael Thomas, clavichord

3. Parthie in A Major
    Allemande - Courante - Gavotte - Menuet en Rondeau - Sarabande - Gigue
    Marga Scheurich, harpsichord

4. Harpeggio e Fuga in G Major
5. Sonata Septima
    Allegro - Andante - Presto
    Michael Thomas, clavichord

6. Sinfonia in F Major for flute, oboe & continuo
    Manfred Peters, recorder, Adolf Meidhof, oboe, with
    Jürgen Wolf, cello and Marga Scheurich, harpsichord.

7. Suite in G for Harpsichord
     Ouverture / Allemande (and Double) / Rigaudeon / Sarabande / Courante / Menuet 1 / Menuet 2 / Menuet 3 / Gigue
    Marga Scheurich, Harpsichord

Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) is remembered less for his music than for his famous textbook on counterpoint, the Gradus ad Parnassum - which incidentally is still available, and popular today. Yet his music is well worth a hearing for its own sake; it was not for nothing that the Emperor Leopold I made Fux his court-composer and music-director.

On this disc we show Fux in more intimate mood, with a selection of works for chamber ensemble, harpsichord and clavichord, the latter performed by Michael Thomas on a clavichord built by himself.

The Partita a Tre opens with an Ouverture in the French style. The ingenious Minuet-and-Trio, in which the treble part of the Minuet becomes the bass part of the Trio, shows Fux putting his knowledge of counterpoint to a more light-hearted use.

In the Ciaconna in D we find Fux exploring the art of Air-with-Variations in a composition which might be seen as a precursor of Bach's similar works. Michael Thomas observes the ordered progression of the harmonic structure, quoting Fux's own words:

A composition meets the demand of good taste if it is well-structured, avoids trivialities as well as willful eccentricities, aims at the sublime, but moves in a natural way and has the power to please even the experts… An undisciplined composition, even if it embodied some exquisite idea, might tickle the ears of untrained listeners but would never satisfy the fine taste of the connoisseur; brilliant ideas will not do, they demand perfect workmanship… sentiments with which Bach would surely have agreed.

The Harpeggio reflects the Toccatas of Froberger, while the Sonata Septima is probably a keyboard reduction of a Trio Sonata. The final Sinfonia is in effect a sort of Trio Sonata, mixing Italian and French styles. Michael Thomas plays a clavichord built by himself.

This is a pleasant, varied programme for quiet listening.

Total time: 74:09

The painting heading this page was issued as a postage stamp in 2010 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Fux's birth at Hirtenfeld-Langegg bei Graz, Austria in 1660.

Fux Biography

Baroque Music Library