Michael's Blog


14 January 2020

A very interesting CD arrived this week from Spain, where Pablo Gómez Ábalos has recorded a selection of music from the 1780s on the first modern replica of a Claveçin Roïal. A 'square piano' to most people, though of an exceptionally ambitious design, first made by Wagner of Dresden in 1774. Advertising puffs, especially from the 18th century, should always be 'taken with a pinch of salt', but I think Wagner was not being overly pretentious when he announced this as a new kind of clavier.

Here you see the interior of Kerstin Schwarz's replica – pearwood triangular hammer heads, moderator tabs just beneath the strings, a tassle fringe that can be lowered to produce a harp-like sound, and cloth-covered under-dampers. Such features are utterly unlike English or French pianos – and there's more. Four pedals controlled the tone-changing devices, for which the inventor claimed six different sounds, five of them said to produce a convincing imitation of known instruments. These were the harpsichord (bare wooden hammers, rather than plucking), the pianoforte (using the moderator), the harp, the lute, and pantalon – a special feature of Wagner's instrument being that the dampers are off, or disengaged, in default mode. So while the dampers will be thought by some to pre-figure the brass under-dampers of John Broadwood's making [which in truth, he cribbed from George Froeschle], their use and their design is not at all like the London-made instruments. The concept, as a whole, is somewhat similar to the pipe organ, providing a multiplicity of stops (changed by pedals, while playing) so that the different voices might be used to provide the Affect appropriate to changes in the music. This is very much related to the so-called Sturm und Drang aesthetic of German music in the 1770s.

Pablo's choice of music includes, as you might expect, six Fantasias from C.P.E.Bach, and rather more surprisingly, one of Beethoven's youthful Kurfürsten Sonatas. An interesting experiment!

I would like to be able to give readers a reference to show where this recording can be purchased, but there is no clear indication on the CD or its package. More information when I have it. Meanwhile there is a spare copy here which I would happily send to the first applicant, if they will pay the postage and packing. CLAIMED 15/Jan/20!


4 January 2020

Our musical start to the New Year was a real treat for the regular audience, and a great many newcomers who travelled quite some distance to be present. In all about 180 people sat listening with great attention to baroque chamber music -- Jonathan, Warwick and David playing very harmoniously.

Seven members of the Cole family - three generations - working hard to make it all possible, and at the end, generous donations in the collection which will go towards future concerts, including Bach's St. Mark Passion [reconstructed] to be featured at Easter.

1 January 2020

The new decade starts as we woud wish it – with music. As last year, three generations of the Cole family will be in attendance this coming Saturday for the next edition of the Corelli Concert series. Jonathan Morgan (baroque flute) is to pay a return from his new home in London, and will play alongside Warwick Cole (harpsichord) and David Hatcher (bass viol) – just what the regular audience likes best, if we judge by their generosity and the numbers attending. So we look forward to a varied programme of solo and ensemble pieces. Tea, coffee and home made cakes, and an hour of genteel music – not a bad way to start the year. If this is anything like 2019 we can expect visitors from far and wide.

If there is one thing that I woud wish for in the coming year it would be to see no more harpsichords or early pianos irrevocably damaged by the destruction of their ivory keys.



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