RICHARD JONES: Sets of Lessons for the Harpsichord – Mitzi Meyerson – Glossa GCD 921805 (2 CDs) 1: 52:33; 2: 59:48 *****:
Very little is known about Richard Jones, except that he was an accomplished violinist in the early 1700s. Before he died in 1744 he produced two sonata collections for violin and continuo, plus this volume of works for harpsichord of 1732. U.S. harpsichordist Mitzi Meyerson has recorded works of Balbastre and Muffat before, and now presents a complete recording of all of Jones’ Suites, giving an ear to the British baroque period at its peak. Unfortunately, at the time Handel was very hot in London and Jones’ little sets of lessons soon were left in the dust.
There is an interview with Meyerson in the note booklet, as well as material on the building of the harpsichord. She reports that she hears influences of J.S. Bach, the wildness of Vivaldi, and the tunefulness of Purcell in Jones’ miniatures. The six sets here contain from six to a dozen movements, usually named after various dance styles of the period, such as Minuet, Sarabanda, Allemanda, Boree, March, gavote, etc.
Not only are the various pieces delightfully tuneful, but many are also demanding technically. Meyerson has little trouble handling their difficulties. The Sixth Set has a dozen movements, and Meyerson says that is because after the composer had organized everything he still had some great little tunes left over that he couldn’t bear to lose because they were in the proper key for the other five sets. So he included all of them in the Sixth Set. Meyerson’s instrument was built by Michael Johnson in 1998 and is modeled on the double-manual harpsichords of Ruckers. The Glossa engineers are to be commended for their excellent sonics, which are free of the artifacts that color many other harpsichord recordings.
— John Sunier
A cascading sweep of keyboard miniatures