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  Founder: Len Mullenger

Liselotte Selbiger plays
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)

Suite No. 2, in G minor, Z 661 [4:17]
Studio production by Danmarks Radio, 1951
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)

Le Rossignol en-amour (14° ordre) [3:36]
Les Graces Naturèles (11° ordre) [3:02]
COL LD3, 1949
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Sarabande. From Partita BWV 825 [4:28]
HMV DB 5296, 1949
Two-part Inventions
No. 4 in D minor BWV 775 [0:54]
No. 6 in E major BWV 777 [2:16]
No. 8 in F major BWV 779 [0:55]
COL LDX 7016, 1950
From The Well-Tempered Clavier,
Book I BWV 846, 847, 854, 855 [13:41]
COL SELK 1003, 1951
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in D minor Longo 413 [2:12]
Sonata in E major Longo 23 [3:38]
Sonata in C major Longo 104 [2:04]
Toccata in D minor Longo 422 [3:41]
BE OK 1014, c.1953
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Preludes BWV 933-938 [8:39]
From Four Duets
(Klavierübung III) BWV 804-805 [5:55]
Studio production by Danmarks Radio, c. 1952
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)

Sonata V in F major Wq 55 [6:31]
Studio production by Danmarks Radio, c. 1952
Bonus CD

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)

Suite in E minor [15:33]
COL 33 KC2, 1955
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)

Les Folies françoises, ou les
Dominos (13° ordre) [7:04]
Passacaille (8° ordre) [7:52]
COL 33 KC2, 1955
Liselotte Selbiger (harpsichord and clavichord)
Recording dates and locations, if known, noted above
DANACORD DACOCD 645 [72.42 + 32.18]

Liselotte Selbiger’s life was ruptured as a result of the rise of the Nazis but she managed to develop an important career in her adopted homeland of Denmark. She was born in Berlin and began musical life as a cellist before switching to harpsichord. She left Germany in 1935 and moved to Copenhagen and shortly before her 1939 solo debut went briefly to study with Wanda Landowska. She continued to give recitals, even under the occupation, until another flight, this time to Sweden in 1943, became imperative. She escaped in the bottom of a fishing boat, carrying poison and knowing that her parents had committed suicide in Berlin rather than face a concentration camp. She returned to Denmark after the War’s end, recorded for radio and on disc and toured, but gradually illness took its toll and her career trailed off.

Though she absorbed certain of Landowska’s precepts on ornamentation it’s quite clear that she took a quite different path from the Polish pioneer – and whilst this does relate to pedalling, sonority and theatrical projection it also concerns a more equable and less temperamental approach to the repertoire, something that the German harpsichordist Alice Ehlers had also espoused in her recordings.

This is the second of Danacord’s recordings devoted to her memory – the first was all-Bach – and it comprises a single disc with a "bonus" of just over half an hour’s worth. Danacord has been assiduous in tracking down her commercial Columbias and equally in getting access to some of her very many radio broadcasts. This material suffers from a few attendant problems but they are minor in the context of preserved early 1950s broadcasts and attest to the archive-minded nature of Scandinavian broadcasters.

The repertoire is fairly central and there are no examples – if any such survive – of her comradely association with chamber partners. But we do get some Purcell, quite forceful in its opening movement, but increasingly stylishly done and some fine Couperin. The commercial discs do have some shellac crackle but we can still appreciate her lightness of touch and delicacy of articulation. There is more Bach in this set to join the material on the earlier volume; she’s a thoroughly effective exponent of the Two-Part Inventions and plays a selection of the Preludes and Fugues – in good sound – with commitment. Her Scarlatti is buoyant and colourful and she plays the dramatic Toccata in D minor with real élan.

I enjoyed her Rameau, with its verve and rhythmic incision and a fine sense of delicate tracery in Le Rappel des Oiseaux of the Suite in E minor and of robust wit in the famous Tambourin. Her Couperin Passacaille is also impressive. We also have examples of her clavichord playing in some J S (Preludes for beginners BWV933-938) and C P E Bach. This was rather tightly recorded by Denmark Radio and this close-up perspective can reduce subtlety of colouration but it’s a more than pleasing adjunct to Selbiger’s keyboard artistry.

There are some fine notes, to which I’m indebted, and a really informed sense of commitment to the restoration of Selbiger’s legacy on disc.

Jonathan Woolf




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