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English Harpsichord Works
David Pollock (harpsichord)
rec. St. Martin’s Church, East Woodhay, Hampshire, 23-25 July 2013
MUSIC & MEDIA MMC112 [78.28]

In his excellent and scholarly booklet notes to accompany this disc, David Pollock describes this selection as “a personal anthology of English harpsichord music”, and for me this is what makes this disc so interesting. The disc spans nearly 150 years of music-making from William Byrd to William Croft, and the point that the music means something to Pollock is not lost in the performance which is one of great dexterity and feeling.

The majority of the music on this disc is given over to the music of Henry Purcell, with his 3rd, 5th and 6th Suites taking pride of place. Here Pollock gives performances of great contrast and feeling, and this is carried over into the shorter accompanying pieces. In comparison with Oliver Beaumont’s reading of the six suites for Warner (2564 69139-0), I find Pollock’s more nuanced and infinitely preferable. I only wish he had gone on to record the remaining suites.

William Byrd is a composer that I have been listening to a lot lately, with the Davitt Moroney box of the complete keyboard music on Hyperion (CDS44461/7) forming the mainstay of this appreciation. The problem with Byrd’s music is that in a lot of cases no instrument is stated, and in the five pieces that have been included here, only All in a Garden Greene shares a harpsichord in the Moroney set. Pollock proves himself an excellent interpreter of Byrd’s music with these five interpretations proving to be more than just alternatives to the Moroney.

Of the remaining items on this disc, whilst I have some music by John Blow and William Croft, I do not have the piece presented here. Both suites are well constructed and varied in style. The fact that Pollock’s performance of this music is so persuasive that I am seeking further recordings of this fine music speaks for itself. This music might be new to some, but it does deserve to be here and be heard in its own right. It is not here as an afterthought but plays an integral part in this recital.

Mention must be made of the instrument. It is a modern copy by Anne and Ian Tucker of a 1636 Ruckers single manual harpsichord, which has itself been converted to a double manual in 1763 by Henri Hemsch. The result has a beautiful consistent tone, and sounds finer than those employed by both Beaumont and Moroney. As mentioned above, David Pollock’s notes are excellent, and the acoustic of St. Martin’s Church seems to suit this instrument perfectly. This disc proves to be an excellent introductory survey of this often forgotten aspect of English music.

Stuart Sillitoe

Track listing
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Suite 5 in C [5:36]
Ground in C minor [3:31]
William BYRD (c.1540-1623)
The Carman’s Whistle [4:51]
Henry PURCELL
Prelude in A minor [0:44]
John BLOW (1649-1708)
Suite in A minor [9:40]
William BYRD
Hughe Ashton’s Grownde [8:40]
Henry PURCELL
Suite 3 in G [6:00]
Chaconne in G minor [2:59]
William BYRD
The Mayden’s Songe [6:43]
William CROFT (1678-1727)
Suite 10 in E minor [8:41]
Henry PURCELL
A New Ground [2:31]
William BYRD
Will Yow Walke the Woodes Soe Wylde [4:43]
Henry PURCELL
Suite 6 in D [9:14]
John BLOW
Ground in D minor [3:51]
William BYRD
All in a Garden Greene [5:08]

 

 




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