John Kitchen

Instruments from the Russell Collection

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AllMusic Review by

This disc is intended to introduce a collection of keyboard instruments in Edinburgh, Scotland, but actually it accomplishes much more. The instruments featured here were built all over Europe, with the majority from the British Isles or France. They date from between 1586 and 1810, with the first example being an Italian virginal and the final one a fortepiano. Along the way come harpsichords of various kinds, a clavichord, and a small organ. Brief but relevant and engaging histories are given for each instrument. The variety of sounds will interest even the listener with only a casual interest in Baroque music, but what's best of all is the presentation of the whole group of musical issues associated with these instruments. Each piece picked (both famous, like Byrd and Handel, and obscure, like Maurice Greene) is appropriate to the instrument involved, and the notes explain the connections well. In several cases, the instrument makes one hear the music in a new way. The authentic tunings bring special pungency to several chromatic contrapuntal works, while L'Affligée, by Armand-Louis Couperin (grandson of François), comes to life on a muscular double-manual Parisian harpsichord of 1769 (here identified as "the most famous harpsichord in the world") and carries with it the glittering excesses of the Old Regime. Keyboardist John Kitchen shows admirable facility in exploiting the strengths of each instrument and in creating styles idiomatic to music ranging from Renaissance to pre-Romantic. Administrators of other instrument collections can look to this disc as a model when considering similar releases, and beyond that, anyone with an interest in early keyboard music will profit by having this disc in his or her home library.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Galliarda la Royne D'Escosse & Queen of Scots Galliard, for ensemble
1 01:09
2 01:23
3 03:23
Pavane & 2 Galliards ("The Earle of Salisbury"), for keyboard in A minor, No. 2 , MB 15
4 01:27
5 01:20
6 05:21
7 05:40
8 03:13
Suite for harpsichord in F
9 02:17
10 01:41
11 01:44
The Well-Tempered Clavier (24), collection of preludes & fugues, Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127)
12 03:03
13 02:28
14 04:20
Fugues and Voluntaries (12) for organ or harpsichord (spurious)
15 03:53
Suite for harpsichord, No 3 in D major
16 05:50
17 03:16
18 07:56
19 05:58
Rodelinda, regina de' Langobardi, opera, HWV 19
20 04:21
Sonatina for piano in D major, Op. 36/6
21 04:00
22 01:58
blue highlight denotes track pick