“Dances With Harpsichords” [TrackList follows] – Elaine Funaro, harpsichord – Centaur
“Aprés Scarlatti” [TrackList follows] – Kristina Szutor, piano – Centaur

“Dances With Harpsichords” [TrackList follows] – Elaine Funaro, harpsichord – Centaur CRC 2651, 72:53 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

“Aprés Scarlatti” [TrackList follows] – Kristina Szutor, piano – Centaur CRC 3178, 62:14 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Harpsichordist Elaine Funaro feels there is no keyboard instrument better suited to dance music and the harpsichord, which has a rhythmic punch in each note. Her CD updates the usual early music repertory of the instrument while bowing to its past.

She points out that some of the earliest instrumental dance suites originated in England, and that explains the opening music: Herbert Howells Lambert’s Clavichord. The three short movements are a modern twist on the spirit of John Dowland. Next are a half dozen dances which composer Kent Holliday wrote after a journey to Peru, each one named after a different village in Peru. Brasil is the setting for the next group of dances. Dimitri Cervo’s Pequena Suite Brasileira is intended to present the Brazilian mix of European musical forms with black African and Indian music, much as Schubert and Beethoven presented peasant dances in their music to the 19th-century Viennese pubic.

Other dances for harpsichord in the album are influenced by the folk music of Bulgaria and Spain.  Rudy Davenport, in Seven Innocent Dances, based his music primarily on the English and French harpsichord composers of the 17th century. He sees the harpsichord not as an instrument cable only of performing old music, but offering an intriguing alternative to the piano as a keyboard for solo and chamber music. In the seven dances he explores different harpsichord techniques: arpeggios, ornaments, flourishes, hand crossings, etc. The Innocent part of the title comes from their being light-hearted and appalling — not ponderous.

Funaro plays on two different harpsichords: a Taskin copy by William Dowd and a Flemish double-keyboard instrument made in Amsterdam in 1984. The sound is excellent, and I must say this was the most enjoyable of the several contemporary music harpsichord CDs I’ve auditioned.

TrackList:

1. HERBERT HOWELLS: Lambert’s Clavichord: Twelve Pieces for Clavichord, Op 41: Hughes Ballet
2. Lambert’s Clavichord: Twelve Pieces for Clavichord, Op 41: de La Mere Pavane
3. Lambert’s Clavichord: Twelve Pieces for Clavichord, Op 41: Sir Hugh’s Galliard
4. KENT HOLLIDAY: Dances from Colca Canyon, for keyboard: Callalli
5. Dances from Colca Canyon, for keyboard: Coporaque
6. Dances from Colca Canyon, for keyboard: Yanquye
7. Dances from Colca Canyon, for keyboard: Achoma
8. Dances from Colca Canyon, for keyboard: Pinchollo
9. Dances from Colca Canyon, for keyboard: Maca
10. DIMTRI CERVO: Pequena Suite Brasileira, for harpsichord:        Samba
11. Pequena Suite Brasileira, for harpsichord: Cantiga de Roda
12. Pequena Suite Brasileira, for harpsichord: Dança Negra
13. Pequena Suite Brasileira, for harpsichord: Cantiga de Cego
14. Pequena Suite Brasileira, for harpsichord: Capoeira
15. Pequena Suite Brasileira, for harpsichord: Desafio
16. STEPHEN DODGSON: Suite No. 1, for harpsichord: Tambourin
17. TIMOTHY TIKKER: Bulgarian Dances (3), for harpsichord: Pravo
18. Bulgarian Dances (3), for harpsichord: Les Noto
19. Bulgarian Dances (3), for harpsichord: Ruchenitsa
20. TIMOTHY BROWN: Suite Española, for harpsichord: Malagueña
21. Suite Española, for harpsichord: Romanza
22. Suite Española, for harpsichord: Seguidillas
23. Suite Española, for harpsichord: Tango
24. FRANCIS THOME: Rigadon, for harpsichord
25. RUDY DAVENPORT: Innocent Dances (7), for harpsichord: With Casualness
26. Innocent Dances (7), for harpsichord: With Resolve
27. Innocent Dances (7), for harpsichord: With Playfulness
28. Innocent Dances (7), for harpsichord: With Excitement
29. Innocent Dances (7), for harpsichord: With Fire
30. Innocent Dances (7), for harpsichord: With Pomposity
31. Innocent Dances (7), for harpsichord: With Steadiness
32. SONDRA CLARK:Three Odd Meters, for harpsichord: 3+3+4
33. Three Odd Meters, for harpsichord: Pentatempo Waltz
34. Three Odd Meters, for harpsichord: Two-Timing
35. SALLYMOSHER: Bossa Nova, for harpsichord
36. “             “               Downtown Swagger Rag, for harpsichord
37. STEPHEN YATES: Fandangle Indeed, for harpsichord

[audaud-hr]

Kristina Szutor lives and works in Newfoundland and has a particular interest in contemporary music with strong links to the past. She has written articles for the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.  Her second solo CD presented a variety of contemporary works written in home to the amazing Italian Baroque keyboard composer Domenico Scarlatti. The word “Apres” in the title refers both to works written in the manner of Scarlatti as well as those written after his time. All feature characteristic elements of his distinctive keyboard writing such as fanfar figures, repeated-note motifs, dissonant clusters, hand-crossings and rhythmic shifts.  Some of the works have an unmistakable kinship with Scarlatti while with others the relationship may be less obvious.

Dennis Farrell’s Six Sonatas, of which Szutor plays three, cleverly mix Baroque style with aspects of popular music of today, including rock and boogie-woogie. He wanted to evoke the sound world of Scarlatti, and all begin as studies in binary form. Their evocative titles are suggestions toward a suitable interpretation, without having explicit programs. The closing piece shows the compositional work of the super-virtuoso Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin.  He wrote Twelve Etudes in all the Minor Keys, and this one: his homage to Scarlatti, uses a catalog of the composer’s characteristic devices, adding up to a ferocious conclusion.  I would have preferred hearing these works on the harpsichord, but no matter—the modern piano certainly offers many additional resources to these composers.

TrackList:

Joio: Salute to Scarlatti (4 movements)
Bitsch: Hommage a Domenico Scarlatti (3)
Crawley: Apres Scarlatti (3)
Ross, C: Domenico No. 1; Domenico No. 2
Farrell, D: Six Original Sonatas (Antiche Sonate): excerpts (3)
Manziarly: Hommage a Scarlatti
HamelinÉtude No. 6 in D minor ‘Esercizio per pianoforte, Omaggio a Domenico Scarlatti’

—John Sunier

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