The harmonious Thuringian: music from the early years of Bach and Handel

Charlston, T. (2014) The harmonious Thuringian: music from the early years of Bach and Handel. [Audio]

Abstract

A recording of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century keyboard music, associated with the early years of Bach and Handel, and performed on a reconstruction of a surviving German harpsichord of that period. Using David Evans’ reconstruction of the anonymous Thuringian harpsichord dating from c.1715 now in the Bachhaus, Eisenach, this recording reconstructs the sound of the early-eighteenth-century German harpsichord repertoire typical for the environs of Bach in Eisenach or Ohrdruf and Handel in Halle. The music for this recording has been selected from manuscripts and printed books associated with players who lived and worked in Thuringia and Saxony. Such sources preserve the early musical ‘diet’ of Central German musicians, including Bach and Handel. There are nine different types of piece represented on this recording: toccata, prelude, fugue, fantasia, dance, air, variations, chorale, and tombeau. The Bachhaus harpsichord is a late example of a very conservative design similar to much earlier instruments, such as the Hans Müller, Leipzig, 1537 or early Flemish/English instruments, such as the 1579 Theewys. It has an extra soundboard in front of the jack rail over the wrest plank giving it an unusually resonant and complex sound. It has been conjectured that much of its design and sound may have been shared with the harpsichords made Bach’s favoured organ builders, Gottfried Silbermann and Zacharias Hildebrandt, all now lost. The fact that no other example of this type survive from central Germany lends extra significance to the original, the Evans copy and this recording document.

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