ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Instruments from the Russell Collection
PERFORMER: John Kitchen (keyboards)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34001 (distr. 0131 346 8019; www.delphianrecords.co.uk)
After World War II, Raymond Russell began to assemble a collection of keyboard instruments, 19 of which were presented to the University of Edinburgh by his mother, after his death in 1964. Many instruments have been added to this fine collection since it was first opened to the public in 1968, and the disc issued here bears witness to a part of its rich variety of instrumental types and sounds. Spinet, virginal, single and double manual harpsichords, clavichord, chamber organ and fortepiano are represented in a fascinating aural tour of the collection by the Edinburgh University organist John Kitchen.
Kitchen has taken care over his choice of pieces so as to present each instrument in its best light. The repertoire comfortably spans a period of 250 years, with the earliest pieces being played on a late 16th-century virginal and the latest, by Clementi, on an early 19th-century English fortepiano. Readers will quickly discover their own favourite sounds. For myself, I was attracted by the brightness and clarity of the early 18th-century English spinet, which serves the two Domenico Scarlatti sonatas very well, and by the double-manual Kirckman harpsichord (1755) used for a pleasing suite by Maurice Greene. But there is, as they say, something for everybody in a recital that is both entertaining and instructive. Nicholas Anderson