Willem de Fesch: my 18th century neighbour.

Willem de Fesch

Willem de Fesch was born in Alkmaar in 1687, a place where powerful westerly winds frequently blow. His crib stood close to an old canal and a market full of cheese. A setting that could hardly have been more Dutch.

Yet he deserves an honorable place alongside such giants as Vivaldi and Handel, as his work sounds at least as colourful, playful, inventive and sparkling as that of his contemporaries. As if he, too, had once been shone upon by the radiant Mediterranean sun. 

De Fesch started his musical career as leader of the orchestra of the Amsterdam City Theatre in 1710. In 1725 he moved to Antwerp, where he became conductor at Our Lady’s Cathedral. In 1732, he settled in London, where he soon became the leader of the Georg Friedrich Händel’s opera orchestra.

The works of Willem de Fesch include the oratorios Judith (1732) and Joseph (1746), as well as chamber music, concertos and part songs. The oratorios were thought to be lost but 1980 a copy of a manuscript of Joseph was found in London’s Royal Academy of Music. High time to remind Alkmaar of this world-renowned resident!


On 17 November 2019, baroque ensemble La Sfera Armoniosa, based in Alkmaar, paid a well-deserved tribute to this Alkmaar composer – and where else than in Theater de Vest. During the concert, a collection of his concerti grossi and violin concertos could be heard and those present witnessed the recording of La Sfera Armoniosa’s latest album.

La Sfera Armoniosa’s live recording is available on streaming services, on CD and as a high resolution PCM or DSD stereo and immersive sound download.

Visit Challenge Records or your cd-store for a hardcopy of this production on cd: https://www.challengerecords.com/products/15849513242624/concerti-grossi-violin-concertos

A download in high resolution audio and multichannel sound is available at Spirit of Turtle.

Willem de Fesch

Lidewij van der Voort: soloist, first violin & concert master
Mike Fentross: conductor, theorbo & baroque guitar
Elise van der Wel: soloist, second violin
Femke Huizinga (violin), Joseph Tan (violin), Judith Verona (violin), Ewa Zolyniak (violin), Esther van Eijk (viola), Zdenka Prochaskova (viola), Edouard Catalan (cello), Octavie Dostaler Lalonde (cello), Siebe Henstra (organ & harpsichord) and Severiano Paoli (double bass)

The concert in Alkmaar and the album recordings were made possible by the City of Alkmaar, Ernst & Young, the Hofsteestichting, SENA, and Friends of La Sfera Armoniosa.