Author Topic: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread  (Read 59217 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14881
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #80 on: July 12, 2012, 01:09:37 AM »
Posting it here, since it is music from the Classical era and therefore falls outside the scope of the Baroque threads.

.



A remarkable disc, because:
1. Harpsichord music from the Classical era, from a contemporary of C.P.E Bach and Mozart. Though I presume that it could alternatively played on the clavichord or fortepiano as well. That being said, I feel that either the harpsichord or the clavichord should be the preferred choice. Johann Wilhelm Hässler is reportedly the "other" contender in the famous keyboard playing contest in which Mozart and Salieri also participated.
2. The suitably exuberant, willful virtuosity of Michele Benuzzi, a new Italian kid on block. A student of Ottavio Dantone - and you can tell. :)
3. The bright and dramatic intensity of the 1733 Falkner (London) harpsichord.


What can we expect from the music as such, Que?

I seems that Mozart had some misgivings about Hässler. Apart from the rivalry I think an important explanation might be that Hässler was stylistically more conservative than Mozart. They obviously lived in another musical world. Hässler seems mostly influenced by J.S. and C.P.E. Bach: I hear a lot of the Empfindsamkeit of CPE and some beautiful fugal writing - the Fantasia in C is an ode to Bach's WTC. But add to that mix: elegance like in Georg Benda's music and a bit of virtuosic and willfull eccentricity à la Johann Gottfried Müthel, and the result is thoroughly interesting and engaging indeed.

So on the evidence on this disc Hässler was, despite the fact that he lived well into the 19th century, a representative of the Classical transitional style. And a (very) good one too. I personally don't mind a conservative outlook in a composer - J.S. Bach himself had a conservative streak - and IMO Hässler can by no means be considered mediocre or average. His music is interesting, exiting and gorgeous. I does not fall in any way below the standard of CPE himself, I think! :) More recordings of music by this composer please! :o

Since I'm not sure how long it will be freely available, I'm quoting the Fanfare review in its entirety - it is very to the point IMO.

Quote
Although he is almost completely unknown today, Johann Wilhelm Hässler (1747–1822)—not to be confused with the Renaissance-era composer whose name is spelled without an umlaut—emerges from this CD as one of the unsung heroes of the later 18th century. You’d hardly know it from the brief article in New Grove,  and if you were to search for a recording, either on ArkivMusic or in the Fanfare Archive, you’d come up empty-handed. The present CD is therefore almost certainly a premiere recording.

Hässler stood in the front ranks of the vanguard that swept through German music after the death of Sebastian Bach. As nephew of one of the last pupils of Bach, Hässler naturally had the essence of the learned German keyboard style coursing through his veins. His later interactions with Emanuel Bach and W. A. Mozart further shaped his career and set him on a new course—in 1789 he engaged in a famous keyboard contest with the latter, which ended in a draw and caused Mozart to utter some uncharacteristically unkind remarks. Ensuing concert tours took Hässler all over Europe, to great acclaim. He moved to England in 1790, and two years later to Russia, where he entered the service of the Grand Duke. Hässler published large quantities of keyboard music, especially during his Russian years. He is credited with nurturing the nascent generation of Russian pianist/composers at the turn of the century, but it’s fun to speculate what influence his unique blend of erudition (learned from his uncle) and Empfindsamkeit (acquired from Emanuel Bach) might also have had on composers such as Beethoven, Weber, and Chopin.

The music is endlessly varied and inventive. The melodies are inspired, and Hässler uses them in novel ways, adding frequent chromatic alteration and rhythmic variation. The opening movements of the sonatas are typically bipartite in structure—essentially the sonata style inherited from Emanuel Bach. The concluding sonatas movements are usually cast as a rondo, with the exception of the A-Major Sonata, which ends with a Scherzo-Allegro. The fantasies once again pay homage to Emanuel Bach, but are usually less ruminative and more rhythmically active.

The young Italian harpsichordist Michele Benuzzi covers himself in glory with this release. He is the ideal interpreter to bring this music to light: highly sensitive to the gesture and emotion of the music, yet capable of carrying the musical narrative forward in telling fashion. The liner notes recount Benuzzi’s initial encounter with the music of Hässler, beginning with a mysterious Fantasy in C Minor, attributed to Friedemann Bach, that Benuzzi first heard on an old recording. Subsequent investigations failed to produce the piece—evidently, it was not part of Friedemann Bach’s oeuvre . Quite accidentally Benuzzi discovered an ancient edition of piano music called Le Trésor des pianists in the library. Contained therein was the music to the Fantasy (eureka!), which bore the inscription “J. W. Hässler. 1776.” Further trips to the library yielded a veritable mountain of Hässler’s music. The rest, as they say, is history.

Benuzzi has chosen an original harpsichord by Robert Falkener (London, 1773) in the Russell Collection, Edinburgh, for his recording. Clearly, this is music suited for an expressive keyboard such as the fortepiano or clavichord; at first, I thought the choice of harpsichord would prove to be a handicap. Benuzzi justifies his choice by saying that a good interpreter can fully exploit the sonority and characteristics of every instrument, whether harpsichord, piano, or clavichord, to suit late 18th-century music. Fair enough—given Benuzzi’s prowess, this program would have been successful on just about any keyboard.

The instrument has a rich, dark sound, with excellent balance between the registers. Original English harpsichords tend to be rare on CD; after hearing this recital, you’ll wonder why more haven’t been recorded. The sessions took place in St. Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh, where the Russell Collection is housed. Visitors to the Russell Collection know that in addition to housing the instrument collection (one of the most extensive in Europe), the hall is a noted concert venue with excellent acoustics. The recording fully captures that ambience, at the same time presenting the harpsichord in a natural perspective, as if the listener were seated six feet away or so. Absolute highest recommendation. Christopher Brodersen
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 03:27:08 PM by Que »
À chacun son goût.

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9048
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #81 on: July 12, 2012, 01:44:30 AM »
Thank you for reproducing the Fanfare review, Que. A description like that makes one wonder why Hässler isn't already the darling of the performing/recording keyboard world, esp. the HIP one. But given that even other, more prominent keyboardists of that time are getting their recorded dues only now, perhaps we can look forward to more of H. in the future. I'll try to find some samples later in the evening of this new discovery. :)
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline SonicMan46

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 11972
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #82 on: July 12, 2012, 01:11:02 PM »
Hi Que - thanks for your extensive post on Hassler and the STRONG recommendation of this harpsichord disc of his music - just visited Amazon and entered his name, this recording popped up first BUT nothing else listed purely devoted to him - amazed!

At any rate, I went ahead and placed an order - Dave :)

Offline Sammy

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1585
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach and Boris Tchaikovsky
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #83 on: July 16, 2012, 12:05:50 PM »
Hi Que - thanks for your extensive post on Hassler and the STRONG recommendation of this harpsichord disc of his music - just visited Amazon and entered his name, this recording popped up first BUT nothing else listed purely devoted to him - amazed!

At any rate, I went ahead and placed an order - Dave :)

Given Que's strong recommendation, I listened to the Hassler disc on NML.  Perhaps I'll think better of this music on further hearings, but I can't say I liked it much.  Reminds me of lesser CPE with melody lines that do nothing for me.  The first piece on the disc, a 6 minute fantasia, seemed to go on endlessly.  Que quoted a Fanfare review that was full of praise; there's also a second Fanfare review that's more along my feelings about the disc.

Offline Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14881
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #84 on: July 16, 2012, 08:43:58 PM »
Given Que's strong recommendation, I listened to the Hassler disc on NML.  Perhaps I'll think better of this music on further hearings, but I can't say I liked it much.  Reminds me of lesser CPE with melody lines that do nothing for me.  The first piece on the disc, a 6 minute fantasia, seemed to go on endlessly.  Que quoted a Fanfare review that was full of praise; there's also a second Fanfare review that's more along my feelings about the disc.

Don, can it be that you that much into a Galant style? I do recall something like that - all that elaborations are not to very one's taste.
The Fanfare review I quote is perhaps even more enthustiastic than I am. I didn't know there was another one. Do you have a link? :)

Q
À chacun son goût.

Offline Sammy

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1585
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach and Boris Tchaikovsky
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #85 on: July 16, 2012, 09:14:54 PM »
Don, can it be that you that much into a Galant style? I do recall something like that - all that elaborations are not to very one's taste.
The Fanfare review I quote is perhaps even more enthustiastic than I am. I didn't know there was another one. Do you have a link? :)

Q

Well, I read that review in the mag. that comes with my subscription.  This review must be on the Fanfare website, but I think you need a subscription to see it.

True, the galant style isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I am able to appreciate it.

Offline SonicMan46

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 11972
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #86 on: July 17, 2012, 08:15:54 AM »
Hi Que & Don - I purchased the Hassler CD on Que's comments & also the more laudatory review in the recent issue of Fanfare (I've attached BOTH reviews in a text file, for those interested).

I particularly liked the last paragraph of the somewhat negative review w/ a short quote below that made me chuckle:

Quote
......Granted, then, Hässler was completely unoriginal—a thoroughgoing retrograde, a stylistic dinosaur who long outlived his era. The far more important question is whether his music is any good, and to that my answer is unhesitatingly “yes”; while not highly distinctive, it is thoroughly enjoyable.......

I'm now listening to the CD a second time and enjoy although the music certainly is not revelatory; I have no problem w/ composers writing in a past style and am a great fan of the 'galant' period and the mid-18th century (and I think 'stylistic dinosaur' is a bit of a hyperbole to say the least!).  Now Benuzzi's performance and enthusiasm for this music may be more revealing - he also wrote some excellent liner notes; and finally, the instrument is an original harpsichord from 1773 and to my ears is in great shape and produces a pleasant tone.  The recording will be a keeper for me, but likely will not be listened to as much as my many other harpsichord discs from this era.  Dave :)

Offline Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14881
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #87 on: July 19, 2012, 11:54:37 AM »
Johan van Veen's take on the Hässler/ Benuzzi recording! :D And so the plot thickens...... 8)

Quote
Johann Wilhelm Hässler is one of the many little-known composers from the second half of the 18th century. They are overshadowed by either the sons of Bach or the classical masters Haydn and Mozart. At least one composition from Hässler's pen is relatively well-known: a Fantasia in c minor was long attributed to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, and is still recorded now and then as being from his pen. The fact that it is relatively well-known could have been the reason that Michele Benuzzi didn't include it in his selection, even though it was this very piece which raised his interest in Hässler's oeuvre.

Hässler studied with Johann Christian Kittel, one of Germany's great organists of the mid-18th century and one of the last pupils of Johann Sebastian Bach. He started his career as organist of the Barfüsserkirche in Erfurt, where he was appointed in 1762. In the 1770s he travelled across Germany as a keyboard player. He also visited Hamburg where he became acquainted with Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. In 1789 he met Mozart who in a letter was less than complimentary about Hässler as an organist. From 1790-92 he worked in London as a keyboard player and teacher, and then went to Russia, where he first lived in Riga and St Petersburg and in 1794 moved to Moscow. He enjoyed much success as a performer and teacher, and also acted as music publisher. He stayed there for the rest of his life.

Almost the entire oeuvre of Hässler comprises music for keyboard. He composed a large number of sonatas, and also made use of various other then popular forms, such as the fantasia, the capriccio and variations. One of the main issues in regard to performance practice is which instrument to choose. Apart from the organ he played both the harpsichord and the clavichord. In his later years in Russia he certainly would have played the fortepiano. Paul Simmonds believes that the music written after 1790 is clearly intended for that instrument (in the liner-notes of his disc 'German music for clavichord', Ars Musici, 1995). Benuzzi plays just one piece which dates from the last period of Hässler's life, the Fantasia in e minor (1803). I tend to agree that this piece comes off best on a fortepiano, even though Benuzzi's performance is admirable.

Benuzzi has chosen the harpsichord for all these pieces. He plays an instrument from the Russell Collection in Edinburgh, which was built by Robert Falkener in 1773. It has the sound of instruments by Jacob Kirckman, and Falkener even used Kirckman's reputation to his advantage by affixing a nameplate with his name on it. It has two manuals and two pedals which allows some dynamic shading. Even so, it is hard to realise all the dynamic indications which one finds in these scores. These seem to point into the direction of the clavichord which is able to master to whole range of Hässler's dynamic requirements.

That said, Benuzzi makes the most of it on the harpsichord. Many pieces have a capricious character, and these show a strong congeniality with the style of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. They also bear witness to the influence of the latter's brother Carl Philipp Emanuel. In a letter in which Mozart wrote about his meeting with Hässler he stated that "he has done no more than commit to memory the harmony and modulations of old Sebastian Bach". One piece bears witness to the old Bach's influence: the Fantasia in C from 1782 which displays a remarkable similarity with the first prelude from the first set of the Wohltemperirte Clavier. The Rondeau in C was printed in 1779 but is also a reminiscence of times gone by.

Michele Benuzzi has done us a great favour by recording this selection from Hässler's oeuvre. He turns out to be a most intriguing composer. This disc is an excellent introduction to his music, and it has made me very curious about the rest of his oeuvre. Wouldn't it be a good idea to record another disc, this time on a clavichord? The Russell Collection has some fine instruments of this kind. For the time being let's be happy with his disc which is one of the most interesting I have heard of late.

Johan van Veen (© 2012)




À chacun son goût.

Offline Rinaldo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1621
  • Cara sposa, dove sei?
    • aaraaf.net
  • Location: Prague
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #88 on: September 03, 2012, 05:07:38 PM »
I've got a noob question about harpsichord playing: in a lot of solo records, I hear these (to my ears) absolutely weird tempo "brakes" and shifts that I don't get. To me, it sounds like the player losing his way and trying to find the right keys, which is obviously not the case. So I suppose it's part of the way you play this instrument but there are times when these sudden tempo changes defy any "rhythmical logic" I can think of. This is mind-boggling to me especially when it comes to pieces that are available both in harpsichord and piano versions - the piano interpretation can be wildly dynamic as well, but I get those changes. Can anyone enlighten me on this topic, please?

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9048
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #89 on: September 04, 2012, 02:25:58 AM »
I've got a noob question about harpsichord playing: in a lot of solo records, I hear these (to my ears) absolutely weird tempo "brakes" and shifts that I don't get. To me, it sounds like the player losing his way and trying to find the right keys, which is obviously not the case. So I suppose it's part of the way you play this instrument but there are times when these sudden tempo changes defy any "rhythmical logic" I can think of. This is mind-boggling to me especially when it comes to pieces that are available both in harpsichord and piano versions - the piano interpretation can be wildly dynamic as well, but I get those changes. Can anyone enlighten me on this topic, please?

While I certainly don't have an answer to your question, I think it would be helpful -- to the rest of us -- if you could perhaps post a sample from YouTube or somewhere, so that we can follow any discussion that might follow. :)
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline Rinaldo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1621
  • Cara sposa, dove sei?
    • aaraaf.net
  • Location: Prague
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #90 on: September 04, 2012, 06:21:16 AM »
Well, a perfect example would be Les Baricades Misterieuses and funnily enough, when I went searching for examples, I came onto this video

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/9ffPVFTmK48" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/9ffPVFTmK48</a>

where the first comment talks about notes inégales which seems to be the likely source of my confusion. Still feels quite weird (especially the part around 3:08) but at least now I know who's to blame - damn you, inégales!

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9048
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #91 on: September 04, 2012, 06:49:06 AM »
Much appreciated, Rinaldo. :) I, in fact, came across the term Inegalité just last week. It might be that this is related to aspects of Baroque keyboard performance that people like Don, Premont et al. often talk about, viz agogics, staggering (which is usually qualified by another word, but which I now forget) et cetera. (But it may very well be that I'm way off the mark here.)

« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 06:52:22 AM by Opus106 »
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9218
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #92 on: September 04, 2012, 09:44:31 PM »
Harpsichordists can't differentiate beats with obvious gradations of loud and soft, so they set off strong beats with rhythmic nuances. To emphasize downbeats they often insert a tiny silence just before them; sometimes they hold downbeats a little longer than written.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9218
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #93 on: September 05, 2012, 12:16:13 AM »
Well, a perfect example would be Les Baricades Misterieuses and funnily enough, when I went searching for examples, I came onto this video

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/9ffPVFTmK48" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/9ffPVFTmK48</a>

where the first comment talks about notes inégales which seems to be the likely source of my confusion. Still feels quite weird (especially the part around 3:08) but at least now I know who's to blame - damn you, inégales!

Does anyone know what these barricades are and what's so mysterious about them?
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2233
  • Location: usa
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #94 on: September 05, 2012, 01:40:35 AM »
Does anyone know what these barricades are and what's so mysterious about them?
I thought this was an interesting question so I did a little search. I found this interesting excerpt on the website of a Professor of philosophy named Simon J. Evnine (http://www.as.miami.edu/personal/sevnine/barricades.htm):

François Couperin's piece for harpsichord, Les Barricades Mystérieuses (the original spelling seems to have been Les Baricades Mistérieuses - now all four possible combinations of these two variants seem to be employed) was published in 1717, as the fifth piece in his VIth Ordre de Clavecin in B flat major. Written in the arpeggiated style brisé (broken style) or style luthé of a lute piece, the work is in rondeau form. As David Tunley notes, the piece employs a variant of the traditional romanesca in the bass, though here in quadruple, rather than the usual triple, time (François Couperin and 'The Perfection of Music,' Ashgate, 2004, p. 116). A detailed harmonic analysis of the piece is given by the composer Philip Corner on the Music page of this site.
 
While the piece itself is haunting and beautiful, its effect has surely been enhanced by its mysterious title. Couperin gave most of his harpsichord pieces titles. This practice stemmed from "the music of Chambonnières and the earliest works of the French 'clavecinists' who, in turn, had borrowed the habit from the lutenists of the late sixteenth century" (David Tunley, Couperin, BBC, 1982, p. 79). (There is, in fact, a harpsichord piece called Les Baricades (or Les Barricades) by Chambonnières himself. What does his title mean? I have seen nothing addressing this question.) Some of Couperin's pieces are named after people or types of people, some indicate something the music is supposed to represent. A few of the names, however, remain mysteries to us.  David Tunley adds that "even in their own days these same pieces might well have appeared enigmatic to all but a handful of the composers' circle" (ibid., p. 82-3). Such appears to be the case with Les Barricades Mystérieuses. As far as I am aware, there is absolutely no direct evidence to illuminate the meaning of Couperin's title. Anything offered as an interpretation is more or less well-founded speculation.
 
A number of the artists whose work is recorded on this website have connected the piece with barricades impeding communication between people, barricades between past and present or present and future, between life and death, between the immanent and transcendent. Almost none of these are offered in the spirit of conjecture as to what Couperin really meant by the title himself.
 
One sometimes sees suggestions that the mysterious barricades of Couperin's title are either women's eyelashes or women's underwear, or chastity belts. Neither of these hypotheses is very plausible (the music itself surely makes the ribaldry of the second suggestion out of place) and there is no evidence I am aware of to support them in the least. In one place (a Youtube of a performance of the piece by Philippe Radault), it is claimed in addition that the use of the expression to refer to women's eyelashes was distinctive of "les précieuses," the witty and educated women who populated the salons of the 17th century. Again, I have found no evidence of this.
 
In 'The mirror of human life': Reflections on François Couperin's Pièces de Clavecin by Jane Clark and Derek Connon (Redcroft, King's Music, 2002), Jane Clark links the VIth ordre to a divertissement staged by one of Couperin's patrons, the Duchesse Du Maine in 1714. The entertainment was called Le Mystère ou les Fêtes de l'Inconnu (The Mysterious One or the Celebrations of the Unknown One). In the performance, the King's musicians and Marguerite-Louise Couperin (François' sister) wore masks, emphasizing the mysterious presence celebrated by the divertissement, possibly the exiled Stuart James III. Clark suggests that the barricades mistérieuses may refer to these masks (p. 67-8). With regard to another piece, La Misterieuse, in the XXVth ordre, Clark suggests a possible reference to the Duchesse Du Maine's interests in freemasonry.
 
Wilfrid Mellers also wonders if there is a link to a divertissement though in tandem with another approach to understanding the name, that it refers to some technical features of the piece itself. Mellers suggests that the piece is "one of Couperin's technical jokes, the continuous suspensions in the lute style being a barricade to the basic harmony; and this may link up with the illusory devices in a masque decor. Barricades has its modern sense after 1648, but if the harmonic ambiguities might be described as 'revolutionary' in the context of baroque orthodoxies, the tone of the music remains, even in its mystery, impeccably aristocratic" (François Couperin and the French Classical Tradition, new version, London, Faber and Faber, 1987, pp. 400-2). I am not aware of other cases in which Couperin's titles reflect technical features of the music they name, but the approach is not altogether implausible. Some have suggested that the constant syncopation of the piece makes of the bar lines themselves "mysterious barricades". (Perhaps this is also what Mellers is referring to.) Others point to the fact that in playing the piece, one's hands are 'barricaded' in more or less one place. Finally, in what strikes me as the most plausible suggestion linking the title of the piece to features of the music itself, the harpsichordist Luke Arnason offers the following (written for this website):

The title Les Barricades Mystérieuses is probably meant to be evocative rather than a reference to a specific object, musical or otherwise. Scott Ross, in a master class filmed and distributed by Harmonia Mundi, likens the piece to a train. This clearly cannot have been the precise image Couperin was trying to convey, but it is easy to hear in Les Barricades the image of a heavy but fast-moving object that picks up momentum. In that sense, the mysterious barricades are perhaps those which cause the "train" to slow down and sometimes stop. The piece could almost be seen as a catalogue of the effects that can cause an energetic line (the piece is marked vivement) to do slow down or stop naturally and elegantly: through the imperfect and perfect cadences at the end of each couplet, the cadence resulting in a unison E flat in the third couplet, the introduction and modification of sequences in both the treble and bass (third couplet), and through some of the more "unexpected" harmonies like the diminished D chord in the first couplet. This hypothesis seems to fit in with the pedagogical aims of Couperin's music, since the composer presents himself as something of a specialist in building sound through legato, style luthé playing. It might also explain the placement of the piece [in the ordre at the beginning of the second volume]. Though the title does not appear to be in keeping with the pastoral register of the rest of the ordre, it is emblematic of Couperin's compositional and pedagogical style, and in that sense very much belongs at the head of the second book. Moreover, it seems to form a set with the following piece, Les Bergeries. This latter piece, though more melodic than Les Barricades, set in a higher register and more bucolic in feeling, is also an exercise in using a repetitive motif (in this case a left hand ostinato evocative of the musette) to build sound without seeming mechanical or repetitive. Both Les Barricades Mystérieuses and Les Bergeries, then, are exercises in building (and relaxing) sound and momentum elegantly. It is unfortunate, then, that so many harpsichordists play both pieces in such a relentless fashion, disregarding Couperin's rather obvious invitations to slow down and, in my mind, the very spirit of the pieces.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9218
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #95 on: September 05, 2012, 07:32:20 AM »
The mysterious barricades of Couperin's title are either women's eyelashes or women's underwear, or chastity belts.
 

I like the idea that it's a chastity belt (eyelashes and knickers are hardly barricades, surely) But why mysterious?

For me the word barricade always conjures up images of May 1968

« Last Edit: September 05, 2012, 07:38:38 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Sammy

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1585
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach and Boris Tchaikovsky
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #96 on: September 05, 2012, 09:30:00 AM »
Much appreciated, Rinaldo. :) I, in fact, came across the term Inegalité just last week. It might be that this is related to aspects of Baroque keyboard performance that people like Don, Premont et al. often talk about, viz agogics, staggering (which is usually qualified by another word, but which I now forget) et cetera. (But it may very well be that I'm way off the mark here.)

When I mention "staggering", I refer to it as staggering of musical lines.  Some folks hate this effect and think of it as an off-balanced drunkard.

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9048
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #97 on: September 05, 2012, 09:43:24 AM »
When I mention "staggering", I refer to it as staggering of musical lines.  Some folks hate this effect and think of it as an off-balanced drunkard.

Thanks, Don. It came back to me this morning, but it was I though it was late/pointless to edit my post. :) So are these things (notes inégales and agogics) related?
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline Dinkle

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #98 on: October 18, 2012, 05:49:51 PM »
Would any enthusiast care to make a list of works or recordings that they'd start with, like "main" stuff?  I happened upon this thread while searching for Harpsichord/Clavichord music, but as these things can be hard to track down I'd appreciate someone's approximation of a definitive list.

Some things I have and know, but don't know much about:
J.S. Bach -  Complete 1950s Recordings [Ralph Kirkpatrick]
Domenico Scarlatti - 60 Sonatas [Ralph Kirkpatrick]
F. Couperin, J.P. Rameau - Harpsichord Works [George Malcolm]
English Virginalists [Zuzana Ruzickova]

(I particularly enjoy Scarlatti's early Sonatas and Bach's Goldberg Variations, from those, if that's of any bearing, and mostly just like the instrument solo).
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 06:03:09 PM by Dinkle »

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2233
  • Location: usa
Re: General Harpsichord and Clavichord Thread
« Reply #99 on: October 19, 2012, 07:36:15 AM »
Would any enthusiast care to make a list of works or recordings that they'd start with, like "main" stuff?  I happened upon this thread while searching for Harpsichord/Clavichord music, but as these things can be hard to track down I'd appreciate someone's approximation of a definitive list.

Some things I have and know, but don't know much about:
J.S. Bach -  Complete 1950s Recordings [Ralph Kirkpatrick]
Domenico Scarlatti - 60 Sonatas [Ralph Kirkpatrick]
F. Couperin, J.P. Rameau - Harpsichord Works [George Malcolm]
English Virginalists [Zuzana Ruzickova]

(I particularly enjoy Scarlatti's early Sonatas and Bach's Goldberg Variations, from those, if that's of any bearing, and mostly just like the instrument solo).

Just to throw this out there:
Verlet's new F. Couperin is great:

Sempe's L. Couperin is a favorite of mine:

Levin's WTC is a nice mix wonderful sounding of harpsichords, clavichords, organs and fortepianos:


and Van Asperen's French Suites has the most interesting sounding antique harpsichord I've heard: