Virginia Black piano
For her performance on modern piano of music by Rameau, Virginia Black carefully chooses some of the most characterful pieces from the composer’s 1724 and 1728 collections. She plays with energy and a crispness of articulation which makes her performances attractive to those who don’t mind their harpsichord music played on the piano – if I were to be persuaded of the virtues of the piano as a medium for this repertoire, this would be the sort of performance that would do it. However, even with Virginia Black’s expert execution, I found myself yearning for the extra clarity of the harpsichord. Yes, the piano is capable of dynamic variation, but it is clear that performers of the period found other ways to make the music expressive, and (by definition) each note in an ornamental figure rang out clearly making the decoration much more eloquent. I was surprised to read that as Professor of Harpsichord at the RCM Virginia Black prefers the piano as a medium for her Baroque music. I am clearly missing something. Anyway, as I say, her choice of repertoire is impeccable and her playing style sympathetic to her chosen pieces. And maybe some day I will learn to love Baroque keyboard music on the piano – ‘but not yet’, as St Augustine has it.
D. James Ross