Author Topic: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord  (Read 154778 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14051
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« on: April 14, 2007, 01:30:11 AM »
Bach's music needs a good home on this board - with several rooms... ;D

This thread is a continuation of the Bach and the harpsichord thread on the old forum.

I think that recordings of non-HIP (= piano) performances and of the organ works are best served with separate threads.

Other relevant old threads:

Let me kick off with just giving a selection of my collection.

My first encounter with Bach on the harpsichord was via recordings by the French harpsichordist (and conductor) Christophe Rousset. He remains one my my favourites.
The Decca set is highly recommended - superb performance of the Partitas and the Goldberg Variations. He is now recording for the French label Ambroisie.

   


For the Well Tempered Clavier my favourite is Glen Wilson, a harpsichordist I didn't know before.
These recordings are sadly OOP - but just in case (saw a few copies on Amazon):

   


Other favourite Goldbergs:

 


I got interested in Bach recordings on other period keyboard instruments than the harpsichord.
I've sofar encountered the clavichord and the lute-harpsichord (Lautenklavier or Lautenwerck) and find it all wonderfull and fascinating! :D

Recordings I have by Robert Hill, another harpsichordist I like very much.

 


Robert Hill in my favourite recording of "Die Kunst der Fuge":



Q


« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 12:36:02 AM by Que »
chacun son got.

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2007, 01:39:17 AM »
might want to change your title somewhat - the clavichord isn't plucked

I'm a big old clavichord fan, obviously (I have one and compose for it too), but sadly it's an instrument that doesn't always come across fantastically on CD for various reasons. Among a few other Bach-on-clavichord discs (Hogwood, Adlam) I have Kirkpatrick's two books of the WTC on clavichord

and Book One to go with it

and they are admirable but perhaps, like some other clavichord recordings I've heard, lacking in the magical expressivity which is the instrument's trump card. I admire the laudable way Kirkpatrick attempts to insist that the listener resists the urge to pump up the volume, however!

Online Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14051
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2007, 01:49:42 AM »
might want to change your title somewhat - the clavichord isn't plucked

Right! ;D

Thanks Luke, all the technical differences between the instruments are somewhat confusing (for me)... 8)

I'm a big old clavichord fan, obviously (I have one and compose for it too), but sadly it's an instrument that doesn't always come across fantastically on CD for various reasons. Among a few other Bach-on-clavichord discs (Hogwood, Adlam) I have Kirkpatrick's two books of the WTC on clavichord

and Book One to go with it

and they are admirable but perhaps, like some other clavichord recordings I've heard, lacking in the magical expressivity which is the instrument's trump card. I admire the laudable way Kirkpatrick attempts to insist that the listener resists the urge to pump up the volume, however!

I never realised that the Kirkpatrick's WTC was on clavichord!
Thanks very much!  :)

Q
« Last Edit: April 14, 2007, 01:56:21 AM by Que »
chacun son got.

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 02:07:25 AM »
You know, one of the problems that seems to exist in recording the clavichord - apart from coping with its tiny sound, though possibly related to this fact, perhaps - is the fact that this instrument, which works by striking the strings and has a relatively good sustain, tends nevertheless to sound fairly percussive and plucked when recorded. At least, that is the impression some recordings have made on me, including the Kirkpatrick (I'm just spinning his WTC II to check that impression - yes, indeed, he has a very resonant and strong instrument sounding something like a very mellow harpsichord). That's why it's completely excusable that you imagined it to be a plucked instrument!  ;D

Online Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14051
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2007, 03:08:42 AM »
You know, one of the problems that seems to exist in recording the clavichord - apart from coping with its tiny sound, though possibly related to this fact, perhaps - is the fact that this instrument, which works by striking the strings and has a relatively good sustain, tends nevertheless to sound fairly percussive and plucked when recorded. At least, that is the impression some recordings have made on me, including the Kirkpatrick (I'm just spinning his WTC II to check that impression - yes, indeed, he has a very resonant and strong instrument sounding something like a very mellow harpsichord). That's why it's completely excusable that you imagined it to be a plucked instrument!  ;D

Yes indeed, it does sound like a mellow harpsichord. :)

Q
chacun son got.

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2007, 05:32:33 AM »
You know, one of the problems that seems to exist in recording the clavichord - apart from coping with its tiny sound, though possibly related to this fact, perhaps - is the fact that this instrument, which works by striking the strings and has a relatively good sustain, tends nevertheless to sound fairly percussive and plucked when recorded. At least, that is the impression some recordings have made on me, including the Kirkpatrick (I'm just spinning his WTC II to check that impression - yes, indeed, he has a very resonant and strong instrument sounding something like a very mellow harpsichord). That's why it's completely excusable that you imagined it to be a plucked instrument!  ;D

Among the best clavichord recordings that I have are those by Richard Troegar who has recorded the Inventions and Sinfonias, Partitas, Toccatas, and a transcripton of the Art of the Fugue.  The sound quality is excellent on these recordings and enables the listener to fully appreciate the sound of the clavichord.

« Last Edit: December 20, 2008, 02:02:17 AM by Que »

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2007, 05:35:07 AM »
Thank you for that - I didn't know of these recordings. I've noted them down.... :)

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2007, 06:30:16 AM »
You are all very welcome! :)

Online Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14051
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2007, 11:04:09 PM »
I recently got this disc the get a taste of Troeger's clavichord recordings on the label Lyrichord.



This being my first real clavichord CD, I can't tell if the recording brings the sound gives a accurate picture of the sound of the instrument. To my ears the recording could be closer and more "dry" - less spacious acoustics. Now the sounds tends to "sing around a bit", with a diffusing effect.
Would appreciate comments on this by posters more familiar with clavichord recordings! :)
On the performance: I like this fine. Troeger keeps up a good tempo and firm rhythms, but plays with plenty of flexibility - sparkling ornamentations.



Now on another note!  :D
I very much admire harpsichordist Christophe Rousset, and I'm considering this CD.
Does anyone know it? Thanks!



Q
« Last Edit: April 27, 2007, 01:21:03 PM by Que »
chacun son got.

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2007, 08:05:58 AM »


I have that!  It's a great recording that you won't regret buying. :)

Meanwhile, to add to the WTC sweepstakes, I have recently gotten the Ottavio Dantone WTC (I and II) and will continue to listen this weekend.  What I have heard so far is very, very good.  In fact, the most striking thing so far is the wonderful tone of the instrument used for this set. This is something that I feel I will be giving top honors to.

 

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2007, 08:52:32 AM »
Has anyone heard Christopher Hogwood's Secret Bach?

« Last Edit: December 20, 2008, 02:02:57 AM by Que »

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2007, 01:23:46 PM »
Yes, I have that one. Will need to listen again to remind myself of its various qualities, mind you. Lovely choice of pieces, though.

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2007, 01:34:18 PM »
Que or Don -- have either of you heard anything of Peter Watchorn's English Suites (harpsichord)?  I was listening to some samples and they sound quite interesting.


Online Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 14051
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2007, 12:55:22 AM »
Que or Don -- have either of you heard anything of Peter Watchorn's English Suites (harpsichord)?  I was listening to some samples and they sound quite interesting.


I think that this is one for Don:)

I have Watchorn's recording of the Toccatas on Hnssler, which is really excellent.
But his style is a bit on the dry/academic side. Which is maybe less suited for the English Suites - but I'm just speculating here! :D

On the English Suites: I have Rousset, who is exuberant and adventurous. I recall Don having some reservations on the overtly sonorous/reverberant recording. I agree that the sound is very rich, but it poses no objection for me personally.
Another beautiful recording is by Alan Curtis - combined with equally impressive performances of the French Suites.

   

Q
« Last Edit: April 29, 2007, 12:56:59 AM by Que »
chacun son got.

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2007, 09:08:52 AM »
Que, I also have and love the Rousset English Suites (as well as his French Suites, another excellent choice) as well as the Curtis English and French Suites (in the Bach 2000 covers).  They are both excellent, but I have read very mixed things about Watchorn's WTC which I am also considering, so the English Suites seemed like a good way to test the water.  I guess I'll have to wait and see if Don has heard these.

About the sound on the Rousset recordings, although some have likened them to Bach in an airplane hangar, I think of them as Bach in a side chapel of a cathedral. ;D

   

Don

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2007, 09:47:03 AM »
Que, I also have and love the Rousset English Suites (as well as his French Suites, another excellent choice) as well as the Curtis English and French Suites (in the Bach 2000 covers).  They are both excellent, but I have read very mixed things about Watchorn's WTC which I am also considering, so the English Suites seemed like a good way to test the water.  I guess I'll have to wait and see if Don has heard these.

About the sound on the Rousset recordings, although some have likened them to Bach in an airplane hangar, I think of them as Bach in a side chapel of a cathedral. ;D

   

Watchorn's Toccatas are excellent; the English Suites not as fine.  My review of his English Suites was on the Bach Cantatas website, and he treated it like poison, assuming that the only way I could not love his set was if I didn't listen to it more than once or twice. 

His recording of the Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord is great, although the violinist isn't as fine. 

I'm the one who referred to Rousset's recent Bach recordings as sounding as if they come from an airplane hangar.  I'm sticking to that premise.  Fact is that I like my recordings drier than most other folks.

Offline (: premont :)

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5829
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2007, 11:59:12 AM »
I recently got this disc the get a taste of Troeger's clavichord recordings on the label Lyrichord.
This being my first real clavichord CD, I can't tell if the recording brings the sound gives a accurate picture of the sound of the instrument. To my ears the recording could be closer and more "dry" - less spacious acoustics. Now the sounds tends to "sing around a bit", with a diffusing effect.
Would appreciate comments on this by posters more familiar with clavichord recordings! :)
On the performance: I like this fine. Troeger keeps up a good tempo and firm rhythms, but plays with plenty of flexibility - sparkling ornamentations.

Generally I prefer Bachs keyboard music played more detached and with more  pointed rhythmical articulation than Troeger does here. He plays rather much continuous legato (I think this is an important cause of the diffusing effect you mention). But still I like his interpretations because of the transparent part-playing, natural phrasing and engaged expressive style.
Tiden lger alle sr,
heldigt nok at tiden gr.

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2007, 12:00:37 PM »
Watchorn's Toccatas are excellent; the English Suites not as fine.  My review of his English Suites was on the Bach Cantatas website, and he treated it like poison, assuming that the only way I could not love his set was if I didn't listen to it more than once or twice. 

His recording of the Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord is great, although the violinist isn't as fine. 

I'm the one who referred to Rousset's recent Bach recordings as sounding as if they come from an airplane hangar.  I'm sticking to that premise.  Fact is that I like my recordings drier than most other folks.

No offense was meant.  I just find the description a bit funny -- perhaps a quirk in my sense of humor.  I see rows of corporate jets lined up to listen as if in a concert hall, and all of them are smiling (with the occasional one blowing smoke as it "snores."  I only wish I had the cartoonist's talent to sketch such a scene.   

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2007, 12:08:26 PM »
Generally I prefer Bachs keyboard music played more detached and with more  pointed rhythmical articulation than Troeger does here. He plays rather much continuous legato (I think this is an important cause of the diffusing effect you mention). But still I like his interpretations because of the transparent part-playing, natural phrasing and engaged expressive style.

I thought that the very legato effects were the result of the clavichord having hammers that strike the strings rather than plectra of the harpsichord.  A harpsichord legato is a very different animal from the piano legato, but the clavichord is an instrument that has qualities of both, so I expected different tonal qualities.  Unfortunately, I have perhaps one other clavichord recording of indifferent sound quality, and have never heard a clavichord in concert, so cannot judge whether the legato Troeger obtains is due more to the nature of the instrument of the engineering of the recording.  In any event, I am very happy with his recordings as they are.

Offline (: premont :)

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5829
Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2007, 12:12:23 PM »
Watchorn's Toccatas are excellent; the English Suites not as fine.  My review of his English Suites was on the Bach Cantatas website, and he treated it like poison..

Well, he is a fine scholar and a brilliant harpsichordist, and even if his interpretation of the English suites is very restrained in expression on the surface, I think his solid style manages to let the music speak for itself in a way, which displays its greatness to the full. Certainly a more German than French style. My preferences are Leonhardt and Curtis, but I am happy, that I own Watchorn too.
Tiden lger alle sr,
heldigt nok at tiden gr.

Buying Music From Amazon?
Please consider using these links. A small percentage of every sale using these links is passed on to GMG and helps keep this forum online.
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK