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HPSCHD-L  September 2006

HPSCHD-L September 2006

Subject:

Re: Bachhaus harpsichord again

From:

Tilman Skowroneck <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Harpsichords and Related Topics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 12 Sep 2006 10:44:19 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (46 lines)

On Tue, 12 Sep 2006 09:38:38 -0400, Gregory Crowell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>In a recent post, Davitt Moroney expressed diminished interest in Mietke as
a Bach harpsichord because of Mietke's relatively early death date. Are
there musical reasons (other than the keyboard range of the instruments in
their original states) as well?<

I find the finding of musical reasons ("reasons"? Here it begins already...)
a bit problematic. I admit that I grew up in a tradition of affirmative
reason finding. Like: the Zell (that compass is okay for Bach) stands
freshly restored in the workshop, and son is made to play all kind of Bach,
and everyone agrees with shiny eyes that it's so silvery-brilliant on one
side, but that you can hear the oh-so-polyphone lines oh-so-clearly on the
other. Not to discredit anyone personally close to me, but I have been
through too many situations, where what one initially wanted to believe was
after a listening experience "proven" to be "right," to be really
comfortable with this technique.
Besides there's the question about what's Mietke. Only one of the three 
extant originals is in a represeantative state, and the copies are naturally
even more than otherwise re-interpretations. I have heard some that sound
like a Lautenklavecimbel in disguise, and others that sound like wannabe
Zells, or runaway Italians, so what's representative here... I'm sure that
such or similar instruments were around, and that any (ANY!) well-working
not-nasty harpsichord that Bach encountered would have been, principally,
appreciated by him (if he would have liked to have one for himself is
another matter).
(atually, a good harpsichord after Mietke is really fine for most Bach,
musically spoken).

Exactly all this made me refrain from reacting about Graebner. Okay, I don't
know an original Graebner, but I've seen and heard and played several copies
by several builders, and the concept never won me over: middle-of-the-road
boxes with no true character. But what does that say about Bach? Noothin'

Let's turn the whole thing around. There are - and that's what Davitt
probably meant - historically plausible choices. Then there is musical
plausibility: to play the Allemande of the D-Major partita on a
short-tone-opera-rehearsal-type Italian makes no sense. To play choppy
continuo on a long-sustain harpsichord is downright nasty. To play the 5th
Brandenburg cadenza on the Zell is like driving a Ferrari [I did the former,
not the latter]. Etc.
Then there are the impossibilities. If an instrument, any instrument (and
I'm in a hopeful mood talking about technically okay ones), seriously
impedes the rendering of what seems to be written in the music, there is
something wrong, even if someone tells me that it ought to fit the style.
Tilman

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