Predating the harpsichord music of J.S. Bach by well over a century, the compositions of Girolamo Frescobaldi are curiously looked over despite Frescobaldi's stature as one of the most sought-after, respected, and prolific keyboard performers and composers of his time. The works on this Naxos album are curiosities attributed to the great Italian Master, though their exact authorship cannot be proven. They have in common a vocal quality shunning metronomic performance and rhythmic exactitude. Harpsichordist Martha Folts gives listeners the very definition of a comprehensive performance of these 20 short works. She begins with a set of succinct but highly informative liner notes that describe not only Frescobaldi's position in music history, but also how his compositions fit into the musical styles of the times. Also included is a detailed description of the instrument Folts plays: a rare, restored harpsichord of 1658. Equally at home as both academician and performer, Folts then goes on to give truly inspired interpretations of these works. Her treatment of Frescobaldi is exactly as the composer wished: liquid in tempo and rhythm, as would be expected from a vocal work. The sound of her instrument is truly unique and rich in color. The clear, warm sound quality of the album captures every detail and nuance that Folts painstakingly applies.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
Partite sopra un aria Romana detta la Manista, for keyboard (attributed; Berlin Staatbibliotek MS 40613; CEKM 30/3, No. 9)