The Harmonious Thuringian (Harpsichord)

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Thuringia is a region of Germany in which both Bach and Handel grew up. It was here that a distinctive form of harpsichord was built, very different to most others, with a wonderful tone. This was most likely the type of intrument with which the composers were familiar. One survives and has been replicated beautifully by David Evans, this being its recording debut. Possibly we are hearing these great baroque works more accurately presented than ever before.

Leading early-music specialist Terence Charlston plays music by the relatively young J S Bach and G F Handel and several of their contemporaries from the late 17th and very early 18th centuries.

Charlston plays another unique instrument in 16th and 17th century music: “Mersenne’s Clavichord” DDA 25134.

Track Listing

    Johann Sebastian Bach:

  1. I. Toccata and Fugue in E minor, BWV 914 − I. Toccata (4:18)
  2. II. Toccata and Fugue in E minor, BWV 914 − II. Fugue (3:03)
  3. Johann Fischer:

  4. I. Suite VIII in G major − I. Prelude (2:21)
  5. II. Suite VIII in G major − II. Chaconne (3:47)
  6. Prelude in D minor (2:56)
  7. Johann Philipp Krieger:

  8. Passacaglia in D minor (11:01)
  9. Johann Sebatian Bach:

  10. Fantasia in G minor, BWV 917 (2:22)
  11. Johann Krieger:

  12. Ich dich hab ich gehoffet Herr (3:30)
  13. Christian Ritter:

  14. Allemande in descessum Caroli xii Regis Sveciae (4:50)
  15. Johann Christian Bach:

  16. I. Prelude and Fugue in E flat major − I. Prelude (1:49)
  17. II. Prelude and Fugue in E flat major − II. Fugue (3:05)
  18. anonymous:

  19. Fugue in C major (1:57)
  20. Tarquinio Merula:

  21. Capriccio Cromatico overo Capriccio per le semi tuoni (4:02)
  22. Johann Sebastian Bach:

  23. Prelude in A major, BWV 896 (0:50)
  24. Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow:

  25. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (2:55)
  26. Johann Kuhnau:

  27. Prelude (1:26)
  28. George Frederic Handel:

  29. I. Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV430 − I. Prelude (2:09)
  30. II. Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV430 − II. Allemande (5:28)
  31. III. Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV430 − III. Courante (2:30)
  32. IV. Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV430 − IV. Air and Variations (4:59)

Reviews

The Consort

All [the works] are worth hearing, and were chosen to represent the kind of music which the two great German geniuses grew up with, here played on an instrument with a similar claim to our attention. The sound of this instrument is unusual and attractive … we want to hear what this harpsichord sounds like, and the solo repertoire chosen does this very well. In general,[Charlston] sounds completely at home. We have here an innovative recording, exploring mainly unfamiliar music, on a type of harpsichord which is poorly understood today.

” —Colin Booth
Fanfare

A most enjoyable disc. The playing by harpsichordist Terence Charlston is adept at finding just the right tempos for this program. He also has some lovely registrations (all within the compass of his reconstructed instrument, of course), and I like his sense of phrasing in which the counterpoint is clear and unhurried and the dances unfold without haste or undue rhythmic distortion. This is one disc that would be a delight [for Bach] to have, unpretentious and well performed.

” —Bertil van Boer
MusicWeb

This new CD of Baroque harpsichord music gives an extremely pleasant and satisfying exploration of works written by Bach and Handel, as well as a good number of lesser-known contemporaries, dating from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. The liner-notes are a model of their kind. The playing on this CD is stunning. The sound is perfect: revealing every detail of the music and gradation and tone of the instrument’s character. A great introduction to the period.

” —John France
Harpsichord & Fortepiano

Exciting, ringing performance of controlled virtuosity… The standard of playing throughout is of the highest quality with some tastefully added ornamentation and suitably varied articulation to add character to the pieces. This CD is highly recommended, not only because of the interesting selection of pieces and the exceptionally high performance standard but also because of the fascinating and successful matching of the repertoire with the instrument enabling us to perhaps hear the pieces at a far closer remove than on the later German instruments.

” —John Collins
The Classical Reviewer

Fine musical clarity and sensitivity … exquisite performance… There are some extremely interesting and attractive works on this new disc from composers probably not heard of by most listeners. David Evans’ fine instrument adds much to Terence Charlston’s excellent performances. The CD booklet is up to Divine Art’s usual high standards with colour photographs, including one of the instrument, excellent notes by Terence Charlston together with details of the harpsichord including pitch and temperament.

” —Bruce Reader
Early Music Review

[The instrument] is surprisingly resonant and is very well recorded here. Charlston handles all this with confidence and style, giving the music time to breathe while keeping forward momentum. The association of a particular instrument with music appropriate to it gives this recording a real sense of purpose which is communicated in the playing. I enjoyed it very much.

” —Noel O'Regan
American Record Guide

Expertly-written liner notes describe unique elements of the Thuringian harpsichord tradition; and the instrument itself records beautifully with a rich, resonant timbre. Charlston performs with elegance and refinement… virtuosic command… lyricism, graceful, well-paced phrasing. An excellent record with beautiful performances of an unusual collection of repertoire.

” —Michael Unger
Musica Dei Donum

The nice thing about this disc is that Charlston has mostly included pieces which don’t figure on every disc with music from the early stages of Bach’s career. This is a very interesting recording which combines a compelling programme with a rather unusual sound from an intriguing instrument and an inspired and incisive interpretation. Everyone interested in Bach and/or Handel and their world should investigate this disc. The harpsichord used here should give food for thought as far as the choice of keyboard instruments is concerned.

” —Johan van Veen