Author Topic: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters  (Read 2595 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« on: March 14, 2012, 03:12:01 PM »
Unfortunately, there are many folks who don't like the sound of a harpsichord. :(

That's me. I find the sound irritating. And I find the piano an ideal instrument for Bach too, but I don't mind if others prefer the harpsichord. :)

It took me well over a year to develop any kind of taste for it and even so a lot of harpsichord stuff sets my teeth on edge.

I'm trying relatively hard at the moment to learn to like that sound by listening to harpsichord recordings on a regular basis; interpretation's I really admire many harpsichord recordings of Bach, more so than most piano versions. If only I could get myself to liking the sound a little more...



I know a confirmed pianophile who's really starting to get into harpsichord music, thanks to this CD of music by Antoine Forqueray. So maybe it's worth giving it a try, especially since the publishers have made it available for free here:

http://soundcloud.com/dvfilm/sets/gustav-leonhardt-the-bliss-and

It was one of Leonhardt's last recordings. The harpsichord is indeed beautiful. with a firm bass, clear mid-range and pure and sweet treble. The music is accessible and interesting and fun, not unlike Couperin's music. The performance is committed and full of feeling and brio. Enjoy.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Scion7

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2012, 05:11:58 PM »
Wish I could read the title!
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline Scion7

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 05:15:29 PM »
One thing of primary importance is how the instrument is recorded - if it is too "close" it can grate very quickly.

Scarlatti is magnificent but I've heard some recordings that were too 'bright' or something and could result in headaches.

And finally, it's an instrument that somehow always sounds better at a recital/performance - tho' these are hard to come by.
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

snyprrr

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2012, 08:23:25 PM »
Xenakis? ;D

DavidW

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 05:11:47 AM »
One thing of primary importance is how the instrument is recorded - if it is too "close" it can grate very quickly.

Scarlatti is magnificent but I've heard some recordings that were too 'bright' or something and could result in headaches.

And finally, it's an instrument that somehow always sounds better at a recital/performance - tho' these are hard to come by.

Well said, I am in complete agreement.

Offline rickardg

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 05:59:21 AM »
One thing of primary importance is how the instrument is recorded - if it is too "close" it can grate very quickly.

Scarlatti is magnificent but I've heard some recordings that were too 'bright' or something and could result in headaches.

And finally, it's an instrument that somehow always sounds better at a recital/performance - tho' these are hard to come by.

I also agree completely, I was awestruck the first time I heard a harpsichord performance live. The instrument (a modern copy) had a---I don't know how to put it---soft sweetness  in all registers in addition to the brilliance, something I've never heard i a recording.

Marc

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 11:32:09 AM »
One thing of primary importance is how the instrument is recorded [....]

Which goes, IMO, for almost any instrument.

[....] - if it is too "close" it can grate very quickly.

There are a lot of f.i. piano and violin recordings closely miked, and they sound pretty agressive, too.

[....] Scarlatti is magnificent but I've heard some recordings that were too 'bright' or something and could result in headaches.

But there is a chance that other listeners will like those recordings. I myself am a 'headache sufferer' since childhood on, but a harpsichord recording has never been the cause of this lousy physical discomfort.

And finally, it's an instrument that somehow always sounds better at a recital/performance [....]

Again, IMO, no exception for the harpsichord here.

You like this instrument, or you don't like it.
Some may grow to like it better and better and some will never like it.

Personally, at a certain moment (around 2005) I just started listening more after simply deciding to eliminate all prejudices I apparently had.
And lo: I soon realized that all these prejudices were wrong! I love this instrument! To me, it's far better suited for the keyboard music of Renaissance and Baroque than the (IMO) more dull and less pointed & fresh sounding piano.

But other people will continue to prefer the piano, no doubt. And why not?

We humans can't help it: tastes and preferences differ. I know people who rarely listen to classical music but especially do like the harpsichord sound because of its reminiscence with the sound of their beloved 'pop music' instrument, the guitar.

To me, there is no real reason to make all these negative exceptions for the harpsichord. We could start threads like these about each and every instrument.

[....] I was awestruck the first time I heard a harpsichord performance live. The instrument (a modern copy) had a---I don't know how to put it---soft sweetness  in all registers in addition to the brilliance, something I've never heard i a recording.

As I wrote earlier: in most cases 'live' sound is more satisfying. It depends on acoustics though.
With recordings I have different experiences. I found out that there are many many good harpsichord recordings but there are also many many different sounding harpsichords.
Some will sound sharper, others will sound sweeter.
Sometimes their sharper/sweeter sound fits with the music and sometimes it doesn't.

But again :P: I found out that this also goes for many other instruments.

And now I really hesitate to send this message, because I do understand that with this 'contribution' I've become the thread's crushing bore. 0:)

Bulldog

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 11:50:49 AM »
Which goes, IMO, for almost any instrument.

There are a lot of f.i. piano and violin recordings closely miked, and they sound pretty agressive, too.

But there is a chance that other listeners will like those recordings. I myself am a 'headache sufferer' since childhood on, but a harpsichord recording has never been the cause of this lousy physical discomfort.

Again, IMO, no exception for the harpsichord here.

You like this instrument, or you don't like it.
Some may grow to like it better and better and some will never like it.

Personally, at a certain moment (around 2005) I just started listening more after simply deciding to eliminate all prejudices I apparently had.
And lo: I soon realized that all these prejudices were wrong! I love this instrument! To me, it's far better suited for the keyboard music of Renaissance and Baroque than the (IMO) more dull and less pointed & fresh sounding piano.

But other people will continue to prefer the piano, no doubt. And why not?

We humans can't help it: tastes and preferences differ. I know people who rarely listen to classical music but especially do like the harpsichord sound because of its reminiscence with the sound of their beloved 'pop music' instrument, the guitar.

To me, there is no real reason to make all these negative exceptions for the harpsichord. We could start threads like these about each and every instrument.

As I wrote earlier: in most cases 'live' sound is more satisfying. It depends on acoustics though.
With recordings I have different experiences. I found out that there are many many good harpsichord recordings but there are also many many different sounding harpsichords.
Some will sound sharper, others will sound sweeter.
Sometimes their sharper/sweeter sound fits with the music and sometimes it doesn't.

But again :P: I found out that this also goes for many other instruments.

And now I really hesitate to send this message, because I do understand that with this 'contribution' I've become the thread's crushing bore. 0:)

No, you are this thread's guiding light. 8)

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 11:54:15 AM »
Aye, well done, Marc!
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Kontrapunctus

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Re: Harpsichord CDs for Harpsichord Haters
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 08:37:48 PM »
Caro Mitis, an audiophile label from Russia, does an exemplary job of recording harpsichord. Not too close so the sound is rich and full with no loss of detail yet not overly jangling in sound.
 http://www.caromitis.com/eng/catalogue/catalogue.html

In particular: