Author Topic: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord  (Read 151821 times)

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Offline milk

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1160 on: September 08, 2017, 04:16:24 AM »
The Astree first partita is very odd, I just do not like it. But the second and the sixth are interesting to hear if I remember right.
The 6th is good. But I probably won't be in a hurry to come back to either Verlet.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1161 on: September 12, 2017, 12:26:43 AM »
What's Dutch straightforwardness? Is it a strength or a weakness?
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Offline Que

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1162 on: September 12, 2017, 04:19:46 AM »
What's Dutch straightforwardness? Is it a strength or a weakness?

I would say that straightforwardness (directness/ straightness), whether seen as a trait common amongst Dutch Bach performers or not, is primarily a strenght.... but it can also be a weakness....  8)

Q
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1163 on: September 12, 2017, 05:52:50 AM »
I would say that straightforwardness (directness/ straightness), whether seen as a trait common amongst Dutch Bach performers or not, is primarily a strenght.... but it can also be a weakness....  8)

Q

I really don't know what it is , this trait. Is it the same as com'e scritto? Like Walcha and Toscanini.  I'm going to be interested to see whether you think Berben's WTC has it, or Asperen's (both Dutch)

« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 05:56:58 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Gordo

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1164 on: September 12, 2017, 09:27:27 AM »
I really don't know what it is , this trait. Is it the same as com'e scritto? Like Walcha and Toscanini.  I'm going to be interested to see whether you think Berben's WTC has it, or Asperen's (both Dutch)

IMO ,"Dutch straightforwardness" should be taken as a simple tag, without technical aspirations. I think about it almost as a synonym of “no-nonsense” style. Practical and serious, and only interested in doing what is necessary to achieve what is intended, without silly ideas or methods.

Not exactly com'e scritto, but more interested in discovering the composer’s intentions than the interpreter’s ideas. And here is where Pandora's box is open...  ;D :D ;D
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1165 on: September 12, 2017, 09:48:14 AM »
There's a view that I've heard before about the cantatas and other church vocal music, that Bach was writing for relatively unskilled performers and so what he notated was basically what he wanted. He didn't want people to add expression because basically, they weren't up to it.

I've never heard this view defended for the instrumental music, but I could imagine a case being made for it the suites  in the Anna Magdalena Notebook, for example. But maybe that's what Que & Co. are getting at - the music shouldn't be adorned if you're interested in what Bach had in mind. That's why I mentioned Walcha.

As far as Pandora's Box is concerned, I won't open it. I don't think it makes much sense to.

Seriousness is an interesting idea, I suspect it'll be very difficult to cash out.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 09:53:34 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1166 on: September 12, 2017, 11:19:05 AM »
There's a view that I've heard before about the cantatas and other church vocal music, that Bach was writing for relatively unskilled performers and so what he notated was basically what he wanted. He didn't want people to add expression because basically, they weren't up to it.

I've never heard this view defended for the instrumental music, but I could imagine a case being made for it the suites  in the Anna Magdalena Notebook, for example. But maybe that's what Que & Co. are getting at - the music shouldn't be adorned if you're interested in what Bach had in mind. That's why I mentioned Walcha.

As far as Pandora's Box is concerned, I won't open it. I don't think it makes much sense to.

Seriousness is an interesting idea, I suspect it'll be very difficult to cash out.

I am under the impression that at least some of the vocal music, especially the cantatas for solo voice, were written for singers Who Knew What They Were doing.  Also remember that much of it was being rehearsed and performed under Bach's supervision, so there was some opportunity for verbal instructions that did not need to be written down.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1167 on: September 12, 2017, 11:34:20 AM »
He wrote down most embellishments that were usually improvised but that does not mean his performers were not skillful in general. Although many of the keyboard works also served educational purposes, another reason for writing out stuff explicitly.

(In Leipzig supposedly the performers did what Bach told them, this was a very different situation with Handel having to deal with opera singers some of which were bigger stars than the composer. They would have been offended if the composer had not let them do their own embellishments and there are several anecdotes of heated arguments when Handel had some special wishes, e.g. "Verdi prati" (I think) was supposed to be sung simply, without added embellishments and the castrato refused to do that at first.)

But I do no think that this has anything to do with what we would call a "straightforward" performance today. It is mainly about all these turns and grace notes etc. As far as rubato, "rhetorics" etc. are concerned we simply do not know what Bach's performers might have taken as "usual" or what Bach might have conveyed to his performers in rehearsal.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1168 on: September 12, 2017, 11:56:55 AM »
Well I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that Dutch straightforwardness doesn't make sense if it doesn't mean comm'e scritto.

I just listened to Belder playing the 3rd French suite. It's so serious it's seriously dour. Spanish Inquisition music.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 11:59:25 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1169 on: September 12, 2017, 12:05:06 PM »
He wrote down most embellishments that were usually improvised but that does not mean his performers were not skillful in general.

Yes skilful maybe wasn't the right idea. I mean they may have been able to execute difficult music, but perhaps lacked the experience or artistry to embellish a score sensitively.
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1170 on: September 12, 2017, 01:53:49 PM »
There's room for all approaches surely.  That doesn't mean you have to like them all equally, or at all.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1171 on: September 13, 2017, 12:22:13 AM »
Well I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that Dutch straightforwardness doesn't make sense if it doesn't mean comm'e scritto.

In my book it rather means "within informed stylistic borders"-
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1172 on: September 13, 2017, 01:27:07 AM »
In my book it rather means "within informed stylistic borders"-

Then Dutch straightforwardness is neither Dutch nor straightforward (like a peanut is neither a pea nor a nut; the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire . . . )
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1173 on: September 13, 2017, 01:44:33 AM »
Then Dutch straightforwardness is neither Dutch nor straightforward (like a peanut is neither a pea nor a nut; the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire . . . )

It is not Dutch as such, but seems to be common for a group of Dutch musicians.

As to strightforwardness I admit that I in this context prefer the expression no-nonsense.
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heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Forever Electoral College

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1174 on: September 16, 2017, 07:28:55 PM »
I love the set.

Offline Que

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1175 on: September 20, 2017, 09:49:12 PM »
Some short impressions on this set:



Partitas by Pieter-Jan Belder
A recording early in Belder's career (1999), and to my ears premont was right in his assessment that this is Belder's most succesfull contribution to the set. Though there is more nice stuff to come.... Initial impression of this performance is of of a stately and somewhat deliberate sounding performance, but beautiful phrased and with "Dutch" straight forwardness. The faster movements are however played swiftly (and steady), though can sound a touch mechanical.

All in all, there is something very attractive to the airy and transparent result, aided by the well recorded pleasant sound of his harpsichord after Ruckers.
I would be very interesting in a remake after so many years, which undoubtedly will be more flexible and deeper, but as it is -  this is an attractive breath of fresh air.

Keyboard Works 1700-1710 by Christiane Wuyts
I thouroughly enjoyed this 3CDset with miscellaneous harpsichord works from Bach's early days.
There is little information available about the Flemish performer. The booklet is not very helpful: "she was the pupil of various masters of the harpsichord in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany". Anyway, this lady delivers solid, balanced and carefully detailed performances with great dedication.
Might sounds boring perhaps, but this kind of unobtrusive, straight but lively style seems to work well with this little youthful gemms.
She is aided by two wonderful sounding harpsichords: one by Henri Hemsch, 1754, and one by Jacques Goermans, 1774.
Frustratingly, Brilliant doesn’t tell in which piece which harpsichord is used....My ears tell me that Wuyts continously alternates between them.
The recording dates from 1988, and might have originally been made for Adda (now defunct).

Competition is few but strong in shape of the two volumes (3 discs) of the "Harpsichord music by the Young Bach" by Robert Hill (Hänssler), whose performances are more virtuosic and "high brow" (strongly recommended, as is anything by Hill in that series). Still going to keep this, some lovely renditions here, not least of all of some pieces of doubtful authorship like a helter skelter "phantastic" BWV 909.

The Well Tempered Clavier by Léon Berben
When this was recorded in 1999, Léon Berben was a very young man. And this is a young man's brave attempt at the Old Testament of keyboard music.
A mixed bag of haphazard playing that includes well executed and brilliant ideas, a lot of stop-and-go, musical phrases that collapse, touching moments, and so forth.
What I hear is Berben on exploration through the WTC, trying out different things but never exactly knowing where he is going.
Despite the draw backs I much enjoyed the adventure - Léon Berben has a brilliant mind and has some great insights.
Now, so many years later and matured as an artist, Berben could pleasantly surprise us with another attempt.....

PM I will continue to add to this post with comments on the rest of the content.

Q
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 09:53:58 PM by Que »
À chacun son goût.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1176 on: September 20, 2017, 11:51:09 PM »

The Well Tempered Clavier by Léon Berben
When this was recorded in 1999, Léon Berben was a very young man. And this is a young man's brave attempt at the Old Testament of keyboard music.
A mixed bag of haphazard playing that includes well executed and brilliant ideas, a lot of stop-and-go, musical phrases that collapse, touching moments, and so forth.
What I hear is Berben on exploration through the WTC, trying out different things but never exactly knowing where he is going.
Despite the draw backs I much enjoyed the adventure - Léon Berben has a brilliant mind and has some great insights.
Now, so many years later and matured as an artist, Berben could pleasantly surprise us with another attempt.....

I am surprised, that you do not comment upon his cornucopia of wrong notes, particularly in the modes with many accidentals, completely distorting the music.
Tiden læger alle sår,
heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Que

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1177 on: September 21, 2017, 04:39:29 AM »
I am surprised, that you do not comment upon his cornucopia of wrong notes, particularly in the modes with many accidentals, completely distorting the music.

Oh, they are defenitely there!  :)

Q
À chacun son goût.

Offline milk

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1178 on: October 01, 2017, 03:10:34 AM »
Um...Colin Tilney recorded the French Suites on the CLAVICHORD? Anyone have a thought on this?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach on the harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, clavichord
« Reply #1179 on: October 01, 2017, 03:44:10 AM »
Yes, I like it as much as Thurston Dart and less than Julian Perkins.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 03:45:43 AM by Mandryka »
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