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'... the playing is lively and full of spirit,
and this disc is to be recommended.'

Works for 2 harpsichords -


The repertory for two or more harpsichords has long been a rarity in performance and a source of curiosity amongst audiences and players, but the satisfying nature of the genre more than amply repays the pragmatic difficulties of co-ordinating appropriate instruments and the real problem of keeping them all in tune. Of course the Concertos for multiple keyboards by J. S. Bach are most well known, probably through recordings rather than concert performances, and Bach's Concerto in C major (BWV 1061a) in its (conjectural) early state without strings [listen -- track 14, 5:12-6:05] forms the conclusion of this fine CD. Moreover, J. S. Bach represents the chronological 'core' of this disc of unusual repertory by German composers: theorist, journalist and composer Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) and Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780, pupil of J. S. Bach).

Works for 2 Harpsichords - Richard Egarr and Patrick Ayrton (c) 1998 Klaas Posthuma Productions v.o.f.

Mattheson's impressive Sonata and Suite make a fine exploration of the rich and powerful sonorities from two similar harpsichords. Most of Mattheson's compositions were destroyed in World War 2, but the four standard suite movements that follow this Sonata demonstrate his solid, rather heavy German character. To increase the level of excitement, Mattheson adopts rather crude means of writing more and more figuration for both players whilst retaining the same harmonic rhythm in the Courante [listen -- track 3, 1:05-1:46]. The heavy Italian Gigue has an unpromising (fugal) subject, but in the second half is treated to dense semiquaver counterpoint. Clearly, this piece does not inhabit the same world as the Gigue from J. S.Bach's fifth Partita, but it is interesting to hear what provincial and more conventional composers made of such genres, thus considerably informing us (by comparison) of the stature of such composers as J. S. Bach.

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Copyright © 10 December 2000 David Ponsford, Gloucestershire, UK






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