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  • Von Joseph Gascho
  • Version 21.02.2012
  • Medienformat CD
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Preis 21,48 €


This album, my first solo recording, is a collection of my own transcriptions. I began writing them several years ago, wanting to get a glimpse of making music from the composer's point of view. My primary role models were the baroque composer/keyboardists Johann Sebastian Bach and Jean-Henri d'Angelbert, who themselves learned their craft in part by copying and arranging the works of other composers. Their transcriptions contain both wonderfully creative additions and ornamentation, and frequent examples of restraint and simplification. Recording my own pieces presented the unique challenge, at least to most classical musicians, of being able to rewrite and perform something completely different at the last minute. As we recorded, part of my mind was still searching for new ways to make the piece better, and some of my favorite parts of this recording are the results of spontaneous ideas that were never written down. This is nothing new to musicians who are less reliant on printed scores. Several years ago, I recorded Nicola Matteis's Prelude and Chaconne on Harmonious Blacksmith's album, Sentirete una Canzonetta. One of my favorite proverbs is, "A wise man changes his mind, a fool never does," and comparing that version to the one included on this CD shows some small but interesting differences. Matteis wrote the prelude (originally called Sonata) for two violins and continuo, and the chaconne (Diverse Bizzarrie sopra la Vecchia Sarabanda) for solo violin and continuo. While I began the Matteis transcriptions nearly ten years ago, the Santiago de Murcia transcriptions are my most recent ones. They felt the most natural transcriptions to make, perhaps because Murcia's music, like much guitar and lute music, is filled with arpeggiated chords that also work very well on harpsichord. Murcia's Marizápalos is a set of nine variations on a Spanish dance of the same name. Like many dances, it was originally built on a pattern of repeated chords, but it also became associated with a specific melody and text, telling the story of a secret meeting between a beautiful young girl named Marizápalos and her lover, Pedro Martin. Murcia's Sonata foreshadows aspects of the sonata in the Classical era. The second movement is a simple yet profound piece, originally including indications for vibrato, which I've transcribed with a variety of ornaments. The third movement could easily be mistaken for a keyboard sonata by Domenico Scarlatti, who was Murcia's junior by twelve years. I began my transcription of Bach's first Suite for Violoncello Solo with a prelude written specifically for a two-manual harpsichord. The two hands frequently overlap, but by using two keyboards simultaneously, the hands do not interfere with one another and instead create a rich, sustained sound. The keyboard suites of Dietrich Buxtehude were my inspiration for the style of this transcription. I felt I was trying to make in many ways a simpler piece than Bach's original version for cello, in which he combines harmony and polyphony into a single melodic line. The suite closes with a gigue that is a two-part invention. Near the end, the careful listener will hear a third part briefly appear, spelling out a tribute to the piece's original composer. Marc-Antoine Charpentier's two-act opera La descente d'Orphée aux Enfers (The Descent of Orpheus into Hades) follows the traditional myth of Orpheus and Eurydice: their happy wedding, Eurydice's tragic and premature death, and Orpheus's heroic journey to Hades to save her. In my suite of pieces, a summary of the story remains: the Ouverture portrays the happy sounds of the wedding, though with hints of ominous portents. The Sarabande, originally the closing chorus of the opera, becomes a tender dance following the wedding. The Entrée de nymphes et de bergers désespérés shows the frantic attempts of the nymphs and shepherds to revive the poisoned Eurydice and their despair at failing. After traveling down to Hades, Orpheus sings his Air d'Orphée, soothing and charming the tormented shades, singing to them that their pains cannot compare with own terrible loss. Les Fantômes portrays the entrance of Pluto and Prosperpina, rulers of the Underworld, who are also charmed by Orpheus and grant him permission to return to the land of the living with Eurydice. In researching a program of Venetian music, I came across the plausible tale of Domenico Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel's meeting there in the early 18th century. Realizing that together were two of the greatest keyboard players of his era, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, a great patron of the arts, sponsored a musical contest between them. According to the story, Handel and Scarlatti were deemed equals on the harpsichord, and it seems they became friends and had great mutual respect for one another. In Ottoboni's Contest, I envisioned a humorous musical portrayal of the competition between them - as if Cardinal Ottoboni had presented them with a simple theme and asked them to improvise variations on it. I took a famous theme of Handel's, the theme of his so-called Harmonious Blacksmith variations, and interspersed my own extra variations in the style of Scarlatti between Handel's original variations, creating the following structure: Variation 1: The Harmonious Blacksmith theme simplified, as Cardinal Ottoboni himself might have played it at the harpsichord with just a few fingers, giving the two competitors the subject for their improvisations. Variations 2-4: Three variations by Handel (his actual theme and first two variations) as if he had improvised a harmonic accompaniment to Ottoboni's subject and added two variations, featuring first the right hand and then the left. Variations 3-5: Three variations in the style of Scarlatti, as he takes the stage and employs one of his favorite technical tricks, crossing his arms and performing by memory Handel's first variation with the left hand playing the treble part and the right hand playing the bass. Scarlatti continues along these lines with expanded hand crossings in his second variation, and then creates something completely new and more virtuosic in his third variation. Variations 6-7: Two variations by Handel as he returns to the harpsichord and takes a different approach, improvising two cantabile variations featuring triplets, again first in the right hand and then the left (originally his third and fourth variations). Variations 8-9: Two variations in the style of Scarlatti as he first improvises a beautiful slow movement with the theme transposed to the minor mode, and then continues in minor with a tour de force variation featuring rapidly repeated notes. Variation 10: To conclude the friendly contest, Handel joins Scarlatti at the keyboard and together they perform a variation (closely based on Handel's own final variation) that includes the original theme but with simultaneous rapid scales and crossings for both hands. Joseph Gascho, January 2012.


Titel: Harpsichord
Release-Datum: 21.02.2012
Etikett: CD Baby
Medienformat: CD
UPC: 884501674010
Produkt #: 210272X