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The World of George Malcolm
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Italian Concerto In F Major, BWV 971 [12:15]
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903 [12:33]
Toccata in D major, BWV 912 [10:34]
French Suite No.5 In G, BWV 816 [16:13]
Pietro Domenico PARADISI (1707-1791)
Toccata from 12 Sonate di gravicembalo [1:27]
Louis-Claude DAQUIN (1694-1772)
Premier livre de pieces de clavecin - Troisième Suite: Le coucou [2:00]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
The Tale of Tsar Saltan: The Flight of the Bumble-Bee arr. George Malcolm [1:05]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin: Suite in G Major, RCT 6: XII. La Poule [3:26]
Premier livre de pieces de clavecin: Suite in E minor, RCT 2. Le Rappel des oiseaux [2:36]
Tambourin [1:15]
François COUPERIN (1688-1733)
La Reine des Coeurs: Livre de clavecin, Book 3 14th Ordre: Le Rossignuol en amour [2:49]
Le Carillon de Cithere [2:19]
Alec TEMPLETON (1909-1963)
Bach Goes To Town [2:31]
George MALCOLM (1917-1997)
Bach Before The Mast [3:09]
George Malcolm (harpsichord)
rec. 1959-69, Decca West Hampstead Studios, London
ELOQUENCE 482 5181 [75:19]

2017 marks the centenary of the birth of British harpsichordist George Malcolm (1917-1997), whose influence extended far beyond that exerted by his own instrument and indeed resonates to this day. András Schiff is just one of many musicians to have benefited from Malcolm’s mentoring, and the recordings they made together attest eloquently to the sympathetic bond between them.

Malcolm was a regular recording artist for Decca/Argo in the 1960s, the period covered by this disc. All the Bach items are taken from Decca LXT5619/SXL2259 recorded in late 1959 and early 1960. What one is reminded most forcibly is just how interventionist and dramatic a player he was. Throughout the recital but not least in the Italian Concerto there are constant registral changes, crescendo and decrescendo effects, and a richness of colour. Armed with his modern Thomas Goff harpsichord, which increased the variety of effects open to him, he was able to extract a huge quotient of vitality and painterly expression. Indeed, the performance of the D minor Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor owes less perhaps to the example established by Landowska and rather more than has hitherto been noted to Leopold Stokowski. It’s ultra-romantic, free and startling in registral effects. At the time, it must have been an ear opener but, if anything, and retrospectively, it seems even more so, given the ascetic, even wizened nature of much harpsichord playing that came after Malcolm and the ‘authentic’ instruments on which those performances were and are given. Fruitful comparison can be made between Malcolm’s performance of Bach’s French Suite No.5 and the almost contemporaneous one made by Thurston Dart, also a Decca artist, on a Goff clavichord (you’ll find it transferred on JMSCD4).

There is also a sequence of pieces extracted from LPs devoted to Rameau and Couperin and from the breathtakingly witty and virtuosic Mr Malcolm Goes To Town. It’s hard to resist the super-virtuosic Paradies Toccata, the droll pay off in Daquin’s Le Coucou, the sonic allure of the Rameau pieces – Le Rappel des oiseaux is positively Messiaen-like – or the astonishing Flight of the Bumblebee recording. As if this wasn’t enough, there’s Malcolm’s take on Bach Goes to Town and his own Bach before the Mast, the Sailors’ Hornpipe à la JSB.

This disc brings Malcolm’s broad repertoire to the fore – the serious and the seriously witty – in a captivating selection of items. Peter Watchorn’s notes are particularly good as well.

Jonathan Woolf



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