Frescobaldi Keyboard Works Volume 1

Marc Rochester in International Record Review said of the first two volumes Frescobaldi's works that 'This playing has an eloquence, vitality and freshness which blows centuries of metaphorical dust off a composer who has not been particularly well served by past generations of keyboard players.' To record these works on an instrument that the composer may well have known and others of the same period, presented an exciting prospect especially when the works began to blossom under the fingers and one could hear quite probably the sound that had given the composer much of his motivation. The main instrument on the recordings is a harpsichord by Giovanni Battista Boni who was instrument maker to Cardinal Barbarini, Frescobaldi’s patron. It has split keys and was made around 1619 and provides a fascinating link with the composer and his music. 

Richard Lester



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"There is always something of a danger that such key figures to the development of musical innovation as Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) may be under-appreciated, misunderstood, or effectively overlooked. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he lived and worked amongst a group of forward-thinking musicians in his varied and eventful life, Frescobaldi was able to introduce changes in the style and technique of keyboard music, in particular, which influenced composers from Froberger, Pachelbel, Bach and Purcell to the 19th century, when his Fiori musicali (1635) were still used as models of strict counterpoint...there is variety and freshness to the sequence of performances. What's more, by the end of the CD the listener feels a sense of occasion, of having moved through various changes in the composer's musical conception, almost. This is not only because Lester is so expert at conveying the architecture of these pieces...but also because he embarks upon each one with a sense of adventure, and a conviction that it will have music full of expressiveness and novelty (in the best sense of that word). Which of course is exactly what emerges. Lester plays a splendid harpsichord by Giovanni Battista Boni from around 1619. Lester speculates that, since it was owned by Cardinal Barberini (whose patronage Frescobaldi enjoyed) in Rome during the composer's time there, Frescobaldi himself may well have played it during his own lifetime! It's sonorous, concentrated and full of life. Add to this a warm yet distinct recording acoustic, and a sense that Lester is indeed enjoying every minute – not least because he is so familiar with the music's every turn, as well as an appropriately personal engagement between composer, work and performer – and you have a spirited and decisive interpretation truly to be recommended."  Mark Sealey

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