Virtuoso harpsichord music

Melody Lin
CRD 3546

What should a young harpsichordist include in their first recording? The traditional choices are either to pick a minor composer and concentrate on making their music available, or to present a mixed recital that displays ability over a broader range of repertory. The Taiwanese harpsichordist Melody Lin has chosen the latter course in this short CD which ranges from the English Virginalists Farnaby and Byrd, through J. S. Bach, to Rameau and Forqueray. She has recently completed a doctorate in performance at Claremont Graduate University in California and this recording presumably reflects her work for that degree. The informative programme notes have been written by her teacher Robert Zapulla, who has also produced the disc. He praises Lin’s virtuosity, which is indeed much in evidence here. This is a formidable programme and, on the whole, Lin steps up to the challenge. Her virtuosity is still a bit self conscious, and the simpler sections can be a bit plodding at times; there are occasionally some awkward joins between sections in the earlier music. That said, there is some excellent control of contrapuntal writing in the Byrd A minor Fantasia and Bach’s D major Toccata. Lin plays on a William Dowd harpsichord, after an instrument built by the Blanchets around 1730.  It is a good compromise instrument, at its best in the French music, but bringing good clarity to the more contrapuntal pieces. The recording quality is excellent. There is much to admire here, even if there are more polished recordings of these pieces available elsewhere. We can look forward to her next recording, where Lin might perhaps concentrate on a particular area of the repertoire and further refine her playing.

Noel O’Regan

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