This unique harpsichord recital by Trevor Pinnock charts two incredible musical journeys four hundred years apart. Inspired by the travels of Antonio Cabezón, the sixteenth century organist and composer, Pinnock’s programme weaves a path not only through Cabezón’s life but also through his own enviable career. In celebration of his seventieth birthday, Pinnock has chosen a personal selection of works that evoke vivid memories from different stages of his life.
One of the more puzzling remarks about the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach came from Mozart, who said that anyone who listened closely would realize his debt to the German composer. That seemed unlikely, given that Mozart only rarely availed himself of the Sturm und Drang ("storm and stress") style of C.P.E.'s keyboard music. But listen to this release by flutist Emmanuel Pahud and you'll get an idea of what Mozart was talking about. It's not just that the flute concertos are basically galant in style, not Sturm und Drang. It's a certain nervous energy that makes the flute bloom rapidly out of squarish themes and keeps you guessing as to what's coming next.
This release - set for March 2017 - is a piece of history: it is a combination of unreleased and historic audio and visuals. It allows a unique view of the enigmatic maestro Grigory Sokolov’s life because it offers an opportunity to hear authentic performances from over ten and even twenty years ago accompanied by a brand-new film by Nadia Zhdanova.
In their original incarnation on LP, the sound of Trevor Pinnock and his English Consort's 1981 recording of Vivaldi's famous Four Seasons was clear and bright. In subsequent CD iterations, it was clearer and brighter. But in this 2008 Japanese original bit processing issue, it has passed clearest and brightest and gone all the way to transparent and translucent. One can hear each of the 13 string players bows strike their strings and every pluck of Nigel North's theobro or Pinnock's harpsichord. And soloist Simon Standage sounds so vibrant and present that he may as well be in the room standing between the speakers.
Trevor Pinnock is one of the world's leading exponents of historical performance practice, and this collection of Baroque keyboard favorites is one of his most successful attempts to communicate his musical values to a broad audience. These popular works are often anthologized, but seldom have they sounded as fresh and exciting as they do here. Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith and Bach's Italian Concerto are the best known of these selections, though Pinnock's playing liberates them from their use as flashy encore pieces and instead treats them as more intimate entertainments. François Couperin's magical Les baricades mistérieuses and Rameau's Gavotte Variations are also well known, and their inclusion on any disc of the harpsichord's "greatest hits" is de rigueur. Domenico Scarlatti's two Sonatas in E major are still brilliant, even at the lower tuning (A=415). The remaining works of this collection are perhaps less-widely heard, but each offers insights into both Pinnock's interpretive skills and the instrument's wealth of possibilities.
This is a really great five-CD set. You get all of Bach's concertos except the Brandenburgs - which is a shame because Pinnock's Brandenburgs are terrific. Nonetheless, this remains an absolutely cracking collection of some of Bach's most enjoyable music in excellent performances. In the Harpsichord Concertos Pinnock is himself the soloist and shows why he is such a very well-liked and highly regarded musician. The music springs to life under his fingers (and under his direction) and many of these performances set new and enduring standards when first released in the early 1980s. They have informed much subsequent Bach playing and have worn extremely well themselves, sounding as fresh and involving as they did nearly 30 years ago. He is joined by other fine harpsichordists in the concerti for two, three and four harpsichords, (Kenneth Gilbert, Nicholas Kraemer and Lars Ulrich Mortensen) and the Concerto for Four Harpsichords in particular is an absolute joy.