In the Renaissance-Baroque family of musical keyboards, the clavichord was always considered, in a sense, the “poor relation”; the instrument is overshadowed by the harpsichord and the spinet, because of its more velvety and less resonant timbre, to the point that many musicians in those days used to play it at night, including Bach, who was not ashamed to consider it his favorite instrument. Yet there is also a literature devoted to this instrument in a few countries more than others, as in the France of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, where scores for lute often were transposed to this keyboard just because of the similarity of their sound, so intimate and expressive.
This new CD really wants to emphasize these characteristics through the sound of a clavichord reconstructed by a skilful craftsman, Briton Peter Bavington, named after Marin Mersenne, who lived between 1588 and 1648: a theologian, French philosopher and mathematician, who spent many studies concerning the mystery and charm of the musical sound – studies that converged in his monumental encyclopedia dedicated to music, “Harmonie Universelle”, of which the fourth part was dedicated to a “Traité des Instruments to Chordes”, which also described at a figurative level, exactly on page 107, a clavichord, an instrument that Mersenne praised for its sweet and delicate sound.
Based on that description, Peter Bavington has made a splendid specimen which was then used by the harpsichordist Terence Charlston to record a compilation of compositions dedicated to this instrument or adapting scores for lute to be performed on the keyboard, creating a unique and quite charming collection of works by anonymous authors, through pieces of Nicolas Gombert, Charles Racquet, Gérard Scronx, up to Jean Henry D’Anglebert, Jacques Champion, Louis Couperin, Nicolas Gigault and Nicolas Lebègue. Listening to their compositions one can not remain indifferent to the enveloping sound of this instrument that must be heard in absolute silence, even during the evening and at night, or making sure to turn up the volume of your listening. Passionate and at the same time reflective in his playing, Terence Charlston expresses in this recording a total act of love towards this so delicate and particular keyboard.
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