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Instruments from the Raymond Russell Collection Volume II
Double-manual harpsichord (4316), Robert Falkener, London, 1773
George Frideric HANDEL (1685 -1759)
Suite in D minor HWV 437 (1733)
1. Prelude [1.11]
2. Allemande [2.37]
3. Courante [1.41]
4. Sarabande (avec doubles) [1.56]
5. Gigue [1.03]
Bentside spinet (4309) attrib. John Player, London, c. 1705
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Five pieces from Musick's Handmaid (1689)
6. March [0.52]
7. Minuet [0.45]
8. A new Ground [2.10]
9. A new Scotch Tune [1.04]
10. A new Irish Tune [1.19]
Bentside spinet (4313), John Harrison, London, 1757
Three pieces from Robert Bremner's The Harpsichord or Spinnet Miscellany (1765)
11. Fy gar rub her o'er with Straw [2.15]
12. The Flowers of the Forrest [1.59]
13. Maggy Lauder [1.56]
Enharmonic virginal (4345), attrib. Francesco Poggio, Florence, c. 1620
Michelangelo ROSSI (1601/2-1656)
14. Toccata settima (Toccate e corenti d'intavolatura d'organo e cimbalo, 1657) [4.50]
Chamber organ (4327), anonymous, London?, c. 1680
Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1656)              
15. A sad Pavan for these distracted times [5.37]
John BLOW (1649-1708)
16. Voluntary in C [5.02]
Fretted clavichord (4338), Christian Gottlob Hubert, Ansbach, 1784
Johann Christoph Friedrich BACH (1732-1795)
Five pieces from Musikalische Nebenstunden (1787- 88)
17. Marche [2.49]
18. Menuet [2.25]
19. Adagio [1.49]
20. Andante [1.38]
21. Marche [2.00]
Square piano (4325), Andrew Rochead, Edinburgh, c. 1815
Franz Xaver MOZART (1791-1844)
Deux Polonaises mélancoliques
22. No. 1 in C minor [3.47]
23. No. 2 in A minor [4.01]
Double-manual harpsichord (4329), Jean Goermans/Pascal Taskin, Paris, 1764/83- 84
Armand-Louis COUPERIN (1727-1789)
24. Les Tendres Sentimens [3.25]
25. L'Affligée [6.23]
26. L'Enjouée [4.19]
Single-manual harpsichord (4314), Johann Adolph Hass, Hamburg, 1764
Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760)
Four movements from Partita in E major 'November' (1722)
27. Praeludium [1.13]
28. Menuet [1.56]
29. Gavotte [1.31]
30. Chaconne [3,45]
John Kitchen (keyboards)
Recorded in St Cecilia’s, Edinburgh, April 2005
DELPHIAN DCD34039 [77.22]


The Raymond Russell Collection at the University of Edinburgh represents a significant collection of keyboard instruments and this is the second volume to document it in sound form (see review of Volume I). Those who want their aural experience to be complemented by photographic ones will find numerous colour photographs of the various harpsichords, spinets, clavichords, chamber organs, virginals and square pianos that form the collection – and these photographs are evocative and well produced.
 
Much of the pleasure in the disc resides in the choice of particular instrument used for a particular composer’s work. The booklet gives a précis of each instrument maker and his work and is careful to specify the pitch of each. Occasionally the sharp practices of the time will come into close focus. The Robert Faulkner double-manual harpsichord of 1773 for instance masquerades as that of a Kirckman, a duplicitous practice that the Englishman continued despite being sued by Kirckman in 1771. His instrument is rightly described in John Kitchen’s own notes as “robust.”
 
We can contrast it immediately with the c.1705 attributed Player spinet with which Kitchen essays Purcell. As well as having a higher pitch the sound of this instrument is bright and clear and it allows Kitchen some nimble articulation, though in the New Ground memories of Colin Tilney’s harpsichord aren’t effaced. The John Harrison by contrast is pitched at a’=440 Hz – the spinet attributed to Player is a’=466 – and it has a warmer, less penetrating sound; mellower in a word. It’s also pleasurable to listen to the folkish lilt of the selections from Bremner’s miscellany – note the deft left hand pointing of the middle one.
 
The harmonically clotted and rather odd panache of Michelangelo Rossi – a man immune to resolution of phrases – is served by the 1620 Enharmonic virginal of Francesco Poggio and though Thomas Tomkins didn’t write his A Sad Pavan for these distracted times for chamber organ it suits it in the wistful middle voicings in particular.  J.C.F.Bach’s five pieces sound rather short breathed on the Hubert Fretted Clavichord of 1784 but the double-manual Goermans/Taskin harpsichord does splendidly in the Couperin. The recital ends with the knuckle-whitening Graupner Chaconne splendidly played on a Hass 1764 Single-manual harpsichord.
 
Those who encountered volume one won’t need a second invitation to snap up its companion. The music has been well chosen to highlight salient features of the particular instruments and that, rather than particular profundity of expression, has been the guiding spirit.

Jonathan Woolf

 

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