Two harpsichord collections of great note.
ANTONIO SOLER: Six Concertos for Two Harpsichords – Agustin Alvarez & Eusebio Fernandez-Villacanas – Brilliant 95327, 57:09 (9/2/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
JACQUES CHAMPION DE CHAMBONNIERES: Eight Harpsichord Suites – Franz Silvestri, harpsichord – Brilliant 95339 (2 CDs) (10/28/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
Soler studied with Domenico Scarlatti and is almost as much fun as Scarlatti. They both worked for the Spanish court, though Italian musicians, and in a letter Soler says that he was a scholar of Scarlatti. Soler created many harpsichord sonatas for his royal pupil, just as Scarlatti did. He even dedicated one of these concertos to the Infant of Spain Don Gabriel de Borbon.
And what better than a sonata for a single harpsichord than a concerto for two of them! It really sounds great on headphones or in the car, but is still most enjoyable sitting in front of a good system. Despite the “two organs” of the title of these six concertos, there is evidence that they were often done on two harpsichords. The custom of the time was that music for keyed instruments was indistinctively played on whatever instrument with keyboard was available.
The form of the six concertos is quite similar, with two movements – one slow and a minue with variations. They were conceived as chamber music and have similar characteristics to the harpsichord sonatas. The atmosphere of these concertos is gallant, delicate and carefree. There is an unmistakable Spanish flavor reminding us of the paintings of Goya, which were so full of subtle chromatics and second intentions in which the popular and courtesan are so masterfully mixed.
Chambonnieres is considered the father of the French harpsichord school. He was the Court Composer at the court of the King of France, and a keyboard player, composer, and dancer. He taught the Couperins, D’Angelbert, Froberger, and many others. The two-manual harpsichord had been recently invented, and it was perfect for composing and playing these suites of dance forms such as the Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue. Chambonnieres has an elaborate style, and the harpsichord here recorded is a copy of a Vaudy harpsichord of 1681.
The discs were recorded in the Auditorium Giani Casa d’Organi, Cote de’ Frati, Cremona, Italy.
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Suite in C Major
I. Allemande le moutier Double du moutier par M. Couperin
III. Autre la sorise
IV. Sarabande grave
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Suite in D Major [Bauyn Manuscript]
IV. Gigue bruscanbille
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Les pieces de clavessin, Book 1: Suite No. 3 in D Minor
I. Allemande: La loureuse
III. Courante: De Madame
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Suite in F Major [Bauyn Manuscript]
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Suite in G Major [Bauyn Manuscript]
I. Allemande l’affligee
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Les pieces de clavessin, Book 1: Suite No. 5 in G Minor
I. Pavanne: L’entreiten des muses
IV. Pavane L’entretien des dieux
VI. Gigue: La villageoise
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Suite in B-Flat Major
Jacques Champion Chambonnières: Les pieces de clavessin, Book 1: Suite No. 1 in A Minor
I. Allemande: La rare
II. Courante – Double de la Courante