J.J. Bergan

If It Isn't Baroque, Don't Fix It, Vol. 1

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This curious little disc bears absolutely no indications of its origins other than the name of the label, KVG, which is a high-end custom audio manufacturer in Bonner Springs, KS. The pun in the album title bears only the most general connection to the music, which actually is all from the Baroque era. Harpsichordist J.J. Bergan and second harpsichordist Jerry McPhail are credited only in small print, and the album has been subjected to audio editing with the aim of "reducing the harpsichord's mechanical noise without sacrificing the inherent tone and resonance of a period harpsichord." This dubious project results in a pretty disembodied-sounding harpsichord. And the very brief booklet notes, with cribbing from Wikipedia, are barely relevant. All this said, the music on the album is more interesting than you might expect. It ranges from unfamiliar (the concertos for keyboard instruments by Antonio Soler) to absolutely unknown (the Galliard of Italian-Polish composer Diomedes Cato), with a quartet of suites by Domenico Zipoli taking up the bulk of the program. These keyboard works from the generation before Domenico Scarlatti fuse Italianate brilliance with French dance rhythms, and they work well enough in this rather monochrome performance. The Soler concertos are real virtuoso pieces with spectacular scale passagework, and Bergan and McPhail are on top of them. Once you get used to the odd harpsichord sound, the album is listenable and may even be useful for specialists.

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