The Trinity Hall Harpsichord
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Toccata in D minor BWV 913 [14:25]
Prelude and Fugue No 4 in C# minor BWV 849 [7:32]
Italian Concerto in F major
BWV 971 [14:16]
Georg BÖHM (1661-1733)
Chorale Patita “Wer mur den lieben Gott last walten” [9:14]
Maurice GREENE (1696-1755)
Aria con variation in A major [3:40]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
A New Ground Z.T682 [2:30]
Ground in Gamut Z.645 [1:39]
Ground Z.T681 [3:49]
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
Les Barricades Mistérieuses [2:45]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Suite No 7 in G minor HWV 432 [18:06]
Andrew Alexander (harpsichord)
rec. 9-11 January 2012, Chapel of Trinity Hall, Cambridge
PRIORY PRCD 1077 [79:04]
Trinity Hall is one of the smallest and one of the oldest of Cambridge colleges.
It was founded in 1350, long before its larger neighbour Trinity College which
was founded by Henry VIII, and it has retained its charm and singular beauty,
not least of its gardens. It has an appropriately small Chapel in which a new
organ by the Danish builder Carsten Lund was installed in 2006. Andrew Alexander,
the Director of Music at the College, recorded a fascinating and delightful
pair of discs on it for Priory demonstrating the influence of Buxtehude on Bach
(Priory PRCD 1006). He then managed to persuade the Master and Fellows of the
College to commission a new harpsichord from Andrew Garlick. This is what is
heard here. It is modelled on a Goujon instrument of 1748 and has two manuals
and three choirs of strings. As recorded here it is both sonorous and subtle.
Irrespective of the quality of the performances its sound is in itself a pleasure
to listen to from beginning to end of this recital.
In fact the performances are also of considerable quality. Andrew Alexander
has a particular affinity for the music of Bach which rightly dominates this
recital. He manages to make the various sections of the Toccata in D minor hang
together convincingly, with a real feeling for where the music is going next.
The Italian Concerto is probably the best known work on the disc, and is the
only piece where I felt some slight disappointment at what appeared to me to
be an over-contrived first movement. Even then it remains convincing and the
other movements go splendidly.
At the same time, the real highlights of the disc are the items by Böhm
and Handel. The Chorale Partita as a form was the former’s invention,
and the example included here is an endlessly inventive piece whose quality
is at least equal to those written by the young J.S. Bach. The Handel, one of
his “Eight Great Suites”, is a work of the great masterpieces of
his earlier years. It is given a performance of real stature and Handelian panache.
The booklet contains extensive notes about the music, the instrument and the
player. Although this recital has clearly been devised largely with a view to
showing the instrument to its best advantage it is worth hearing simply for
the quality of the music and music-making. If like me you were told when young
by elderly pianists that the harpsichord lacked the ability to inflect a musical
line or to sustain notes here is this eloquent proof to the contrary.
Eloquent proof that the harpsichord can inflect a musical line and sustain notes.