Frescobaldi: Keyboard works

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COMPOSERS: Frescobaldi
WORKS: Keyboard works
PERFORMER: Aapo Häkkinen (harpsichord)
Frescobaldi published his first book of toccatas and partitas in Rome in 1615. It contains pieces specifically written for the harpsichord and ran to three editions, to the last of which Frescobaldi added a substantial number of new pieces, as well as making numerous changes to the existing material. Four of these pieces are included here. Häkkinen also plays a selection of pieces from the printed collections of 1624 and 1627. Frescobaldi was a keyboard virtuoso and this aspect of his art is often reflected in the many brilliant flourishes and emotional gestures implicit in his writing. His several prefaces ‘Al lettore’ (To the Reader) shed further light on Frescobaldi’s own style of playing, especially in the all-important spheres of expressive and passionate responses to the music. Häkkinen conveys these vital Frescobaldian sparks with authority and panache, making the most of the stark rhetorical contrasts which exist, for instance, between the Second and Tenth Toccatas of the 1627 collection. He often prefers brisker tempi from those of Rinaldo Alessandrini (Arcana) but without sacrificing any clarity of argument. In this respect Häkkinen is greatly assisted by a fine-sounding and beautifully recorded early 17th-century harpsichord. The booklet contains an extensive essay by Richard Taruskin on the present state of early music, but little on Frescobaldi or his music other than a very short, untranslated note in Finnish. Nicholas Anderson