Today I received my parcel of Haas and Tilney from Music and Arts -
not without a fair deal of bewilderment and bureaucracy.
The overall message: Don't try to fool German customs! Or if you do,
at least be a little intelligent about it.
The good folk at M&A for some reason thought that my 3CDs to a value
of $29.85 would be best described on the little green form as 2CDs to
a value of $15.00. Unfortunately it was rather easy for the Zoll to
determine that this was not quite accurate. They sent me a note under
the title 'Ersatz-Zollinhaltserklaerung' asking my attendance at a
benighted little office behind the railway station (opening hours 8-12
and 1-3 pm weekdays, early closing Friday) with two copies of an
invoice in German - somewhat tricky when you order from a company in
California - in order to determine what was really inside my little
But there is a happy ending: they didn't insist on Germanic purity of
language, and thanks to respective economic policies, the dollar is
now worth so little that the value of the CDs came to less than the
minimum taxable value of 22 Euros! So there was absolutely no need for
M&A to, er, underestimate the value in the first place.
Anyway, the Haas disc is very enjoyable. Only two gripes: the sudden
abandonment of all pure thirds when moving from Froberger and Locke to
Purcell / Draghi / Croft (for which a well-known but rather colourless
German tuning is improbably imported) - and the intermittently
violently uneven realization of Purcell's syncopations. The booklet
says something about 'French performance traditions' and 'deceptive'
notation, but I don't see why this should point to a specially
unmetrical performance of the syncopated portions. (Were the French
unmetrical in their dance melodies?) Purcell's notation looks to me
actually rather precise and in need only of subtle - subliminal?-
deviation from absolute regularity.
Does anyone know more about the harpsichord used for the Tilney
English Suites? The booklet says 'anonymous and undated' but probably
Italian 18th century. It is 2x8 brass, range looks like chromatic
C-c''', the case and (cabriole) legs are painted brown with white
cartouches containing naturalistic flowers, the lid underside has a
masked ball landscape scene said to be adapted from Tiepolo.
The back of the booklet says that a recording of the French Suites on
clavichord (!) was in preparation for the end of 1993. I wonder what
happened to it.