Musical Pointers

This batch of standard keyboard repertoire on early pianos has given unique pleasure and satisfaction. It is worth considering why?

“Authenticity” is only part of the story. Indeed, in a lengthy, fascinating and provocative commentary Ying Chang demolishes several received opinions about Bach, conceding at the outset that, for her newly released recital, Jill Crossland’s Moravian Jirikowsky fortepiano of 1824 at Restoration House, Rochester, is something of a “double anachronism” for Bach and his contemporaries, just as is a modern Steinway. He reminds us of “continual rewritings of history and therefore relistenings to music”.

Whatever, this engaging live recital (never an audience sound to be heard?) grabbed and held our attention. It is marked by Jill Crossland’s “instinctively adopting an eighteenth-century sound” in Bach, with a fresh rhythmic liveliness, telling agogics and a predominantly light articulation, using but little pedal. Her chosen piano reminds us of the critical Mendelssohnian stage of the revival of interest in J S Bach (from Chang we learn that Mendelssohn jettisoned most of the St Matthew Passion arias !) and the sumptuous Handel Chaconne and Scarlatti sonata are just right as encores. I look forward to an early opportunity to catch up with Jill Crossland in live recital.

Piano fanciers are truly spoilt for variety and choice! Try hearing some of the sound samples available on the Divine Arts website. Despite daunting commercial problems, for discriminating collectors this is a great age in the history of the recording business.

—Peter Grahame Woolf