Saturday, February 25, 2012

The lure of the harpsichord

Like a lot of other people, I have tended to regard the harpsichord as an inferior instrument to the piano. The piano has a great deal of power and expressiveness that I thought was lacking in the harpsichord. I had never really listened to the instrument properly, I had heard the odd bit here and there and heard it mostly as the continuo in early opera and oratorio, where, to be honest it was more irritating than anything else. Looking back, that was probably the worst possible introduction to the instrument: accompanying long tracts of dialogue, without the benefit of seeing the actors or the drama; and all in a foreign language to boot!

One of the great advantages of the internet revolution is that there is a great variety of music readily accessible. I listened to some Bach and Handel played on the harpsichord and found it to be very agreeable. There seem to be a variety of instruments around with varying degrees of depth and tone, but on the whole, nice.

Listen to Keith Jarrett play Bach's F minor Prelude and Fugue here or Sophie Yates playing Handel's suite HWV 437.

I don't listen to much music now and what little I do listen to is frequently on Youtube, but you can bet that the harpsichord will feature a little more regularly.

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