Gifted performers expertly fingering their exquisite instruments
March 19, 2019 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Sir Thomas Beecham notoriously likened the sound of the harpsichord to "two skeletons copulating on a tin roof in a thunderstorm" - as if that were a bad thing. If, however, such sounds are music to your ears, you have come to the right FPP. For starters, here’s Jean Rondeau playing Le Vertigo by Pancrace Royer; and, by the same composer, Yago Mahúgo performing La Marche des Scythes...

Some more videos (all links are to YouTube): For something a little different see John Hansmann McKean playing Continuum by György Ligeti. Or, different again, Katarzyna Kowalik playing Despacito by Luis Fonsi
posted by misteraitch (18 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
And there's that single time JS Bach really threw caution to the wind and wrote his Concerto for Four Harpsichords in A Minor, mad lad that he was.

It's bonkers, but in a good way.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 1:18 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


That dragon painting is cool, but 8 legs are better than 6 legs.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:33 PM on March 19


Oh, those two Pancrase Royer pieces are glorious (although my dog does not seem to care for the sound of two skeletons copulating on a tin roof in a thunderstorm, lol.) Great post!
posted by LadyNibbler at 1:40 PM on March 19


Yup, this would be the right FFP for me. My collection of Bach's complete concerti for harpsichords is one of my most-played (multi)albums. Thanks!
posted by Quasirandom at 1:49 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


A personal favorite is Henryk Górecki’s delightfully weird Concerto for Harpsichord and String Orchestra (1980).
posted by LooseFilter at 2:00 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Fresh Aire...

The writer of Convey goes all synths and harpsichords...
posted by Windopaene at 2:11 PM on March 19


I only listened to a couple of these because I wanted to know what two skeletons on a tin roof sound like. And I enjoyed it.

A++ framing, misteraitch!

TWANG GRANGITY GRANG
posted by Omnomnom at 2:25 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


CRASH
posted by Omnomnom at 2:26 PM on March 19


Excuse me, no Wanda Landowska?
posted by praemunire at 2:28 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Martinů Harpsichord Concerto H 246

I can't think of another 20th century composer who really got the harpsichord the way Martinů did.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:22 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


That Górecki piece is crazy. I love it. Thanks!
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 4:33 PM on March 19


"A Toasting Fork Distressing A Bird Cage!"

oh,
posted by ovvl at 6:06 PM on March 19


Here's Rick Wakeman refusing to allow the instrument the dignity it generally considers its due and forcing it to consort with the lower classes instead, in a bit part, as if it were some sort of banjo.
posted by flabdablet at 6:55 PM on March 19


This got me liking the harpsichord back in the 80s when I brought the LP mainly for the cover and is still a not very guilty pleasure: Lalo Schifrin - Marquis De Sade. and then of course Bach took over.
posted by Richard Upton Pickman at 8:40 PM on March 19


For something completely different, one of John Cage's most obnoxious pieces, HPSCHD for harpsichords and computer on tape, 1969.
posted by idiopath at 8:47 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Here's Gould playing J.S.Bach BWV883
posted by bdc34 at 6:16 AM on March 20


I had no idea Gould played the harpsichord: thanks bdc34!

Further to the fine suggestions above, I'd put forward Alfred Schnittke as another 20th-century composer who made striking use of the instrument, such as in his Gogol Suite.

> no Wanda Landowska? Apologies: I'd been looking for videos where the performance was visible as well as audible, favouring clips of fancy-looking instruments in fancy-looking rooms. But there is at least a little footage out there of Landowska at her Pleyel I could've linked to.

And in my haste to post yesterday I neglected to point back at some related previouslies i, ii, iii by Namlit (who, unlike me, has actual expertise to impart).
posted by misteraitch at 1:34 PM on March 20


Artie Shaw used a harpsichord on his Gramercy Five Sessions album.

My Blue Heaven, for example.
posted by Pouteria at 3:52 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


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