Dessiner les passions

Andreas Gilger harpsichord
Genuin GEN 22768

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To begin with, I think I should highlight this comparatively rare opportunity to hear a 17th century-style harpsichord (a meticulous copy of a 1681 Vaudry at A400), as opposed to the c1750 Franco-Flemish monsters we often hear even in this earlier music. They are marvellous, of course, but here there is a delicate ‘edginess’ to this timbre which I rather liked. There’s plenty of colour, though, and we do hear it all.

In the booklet (in English and German) the artist gives an account of his background thinking, tells us about the instrument and recording venue but leaves us high and dry with regards to the music. Surely at least the less well-known Du Mont and Geoffroy need a bit of an intro? In this chronologically focussed survey they rub shoulders with D’Anglebert, Chambonnières and L Couperin – the world of the 17th century claveçinistes, both printed and manuscript sources, in a nutshell.

I very much enjoyed this playing, which is both thoughtful and sparkling, with careful management of the style brisé idiom, the ornaments, the brief contrapuntal passages and the dance-based structures. At this time these can still embrace a pavane (curiously familiar and harmonically arresting) and a galliarde, though not as a pair or even by the same composer.

But ma fin est mon commencement, as an earlier age had it. The instrument is the star.

David Hansell

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