on 2/12/08 5:00 AM, Thomas Dent at [log in to unmask] wrote:
> To be fair, a clock radio in the early morning (compressed broadcast
> sound, nasty loudspeakers, stressed audience) is probably the worst
> possible circumstance for enjoying any harpsichord music.
> What kind of harpsichord does Ted play that his wife is so anxious not
> to hear in the flesh?
Of course, it is her chief end to object to whatever he enjoys and to nag
him about it forever (apologies to the Calvinist catechism).
Seriously, there are a lot of people out there who don't like the sound of
the harpsichord. Otherwise, we would not be seeing so many recordings of the
literature on the great Black Beast.
As has been mentioned, there are those who are irritated by higher partials.
These are the same folks who prefer the sound of the romantic organ (no
mixtures, thank you) and who derisively refer to Baroque organs as
If it's a recording we're talking about, there's tremendous variation in
engineering quality, although recently there have been many fine recordings
(see a recent entry in Tilman's blog about this:
I have been listening to a lot of recordings of the Colmar Ruckers,
comparing them to the sound of the instrument that God granted me the great
privilege to play last fall. Some engineers come blissfully close to the
real thing, capturing its richly complex, yet transparent tone. The best,
for me, is the late Michel Bernstein, who was with Astrée Auvidis and then
founded the Arcana label. His work on Blandine Verlet's first Froberger CD
(sadly NLA) and on the first two volumes of her Louis Couperin set (get it
while you can) is as sublime as can be achieved with modern recording
technology. OTOH, Bob van Asperen's 1983 Bull recording for Teldec and his
later recordings of Louis and François Couperin for EMI Reflexe were done by
engineers who somehow make this beautiful instrument sound almost harsh. It
is difficult to believe that you are listening to the same harpsichord.
I must admit that on digital recordings a lot of 8'8'4' begins to grate a
bit on the ear. To me there is nothing more beautiful than the pure tone of
a single 8'.
James R. (Jay) McCarty, MD
Fort Worth, TX
"Sine arte, scientia nihil est"