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Frescobaldi Keyboard Works Volume 5


Frescobaldi Keyboard Works Volume 5


‘If you enjoyed the first CD, this second will exceed your expectations. Now to have available as accomplished a projected series of recordings as this is truly a treat. Here is a performance and recording enterprise that deserves landmark status of its own. Unhesitatingly recommended.’ Mark Sealey, Classical Net

‘Part of the attractiveness of these discs stems from Lester’s study of and employment of contemporary fingering techniques and of period ornamentation. Much of the music looks like the work of a dull dog as it stands on the printed page but not when you hear it played. The letter killeth but the spirit which Lester imparts giveth life.’ Brian Wilson,

'Richard Lester's meticulously-researched, delicately-executed yet rigorously-guided and sympathetic playing of Frescobaldi's keyboard music has been favourably received on Classical Net in the last four years… Volumes 1-4 of this series on Nimbus (NI5850, NI5861, NI5870 and NI5874) have been found to be illuminating, technically brilliant. The CDs represent a feast of original, beautiful and – sadly – still under-appreciated music that's carefully and attractively presented so as to appeal not only to lovers of Italian Renaissance music. But also to anyone with an ear for (Frescobaldi's) instrumental brilliance, melodic and harmonic originality. The composer possessed an uncanny skill of blending the original with the immediate. And this was in ways that were perhaps only really undertaken at that time by the likes of William Byrd, in the English tradition. Short, memorable, phrases and motifs vie for our attention with a drive towards the quiet, determined achievement of his music's larger architecture in such a way that textures visited along the way, ornamentation and harmonic progressions all seem entirely natural. Inevitable, almost. Yet without ever suggesting formulae or tropes that are too well worn.

Richard Lester seems to be gently and undemonstratively advancing the thesis that this is not only a winning combination. But is one which deserves our time and engagement.

Richard Lester is joined on this – perhaps the most colorful and varied CD of the five – by Elizabeth Lester (his daughter) playing Renaissance recorder. Judit Dolosso's Baroque cello in Canzona III, "La Bernardinia" [tr.2], have all the energy and warmth needed to add yet more understanding of the music. Somehow Lester and his performers manage to draw us in to the world of Frescobaldi; to invite us to see both the overall design as the composer developed his ideas, and the particularities of any one area of inspiration.

It will become apparent after only a couple of tracks that Lester's playing and direction on this CD are every bit as energetic and perceptive as on the previous four. Possibly more so. The music has a spring and alertness throughout. But also seems to stop to look around. To reflect on its own inventiveness. As we follow the melody, we can hardly escape dancing internally. At the same time, Lester never strays into declamation, which would border on the self-conscious. His playing opens the heart of Frescobaldi's music to our closest scrutiny and enjoyment.

The choral works (Hymns and Magnificat) occupy the second half of the CD, rather than being interleaved between the keyboard ones. This works well: it throws the emphasis on Frescobaldi, rather than trying to confer superfluous form or format on music which can speak for itself.

The booklet which accompanies the CD is up to the usual standard set by Nimbus with useful background and necessary technical detail. It contains the texts in Italian and English of the two Arie, the Magnificats and Hymns. It also refers to the Frescobaldi Experience website which Lester has created featuring two videos to accompany the whole series… also well worth a look. Each acoustic (in Wisteria Lodge, Cirencester, Gloucestershire; then Almenno San Salvatore) is responsive and sympathetic to the sense of exploration and thrust which Lester's enterprise on these CDs has shown us that Frescobaldi's music exudes. We're hearing something midway between a performance, a concert and an exposition. At this stage in the (still thankfully developing) reception of Frescobaldi amongst players and listeners, that's exactly what's needed. At the end of the series (and no-one who's been gathering this treasure since 2009 will want to hesitate here) one has both "reference" recordings laying out exactly what the composer has to offer. And appropriately personal and "particular" interpretations thereof in ways that make the composer's world both accessible and impressive. Thoroughly recommended.' Mark Sealey,, April 2013