The veteran British historical-performance conductor and keyboardist Trevor Pinnock offers something novel with this program, recorded at London's Wigmore Hall in May 2009: a recital of harpsichord music with the charateristics usually attached to the word in the phrase "piano recital." That is, he offers a set of pieces, from different eras and in different styles, that he perceives as linked by other, somewhat less tangible criteria. Pinnock hasn't lost his knack for innovative thinking, and this program works so well that one supposes the album will be the first of many of its kind. The connections led back, as is so often the case with promising ideas, to more tangible ones in turn; Pinnock, after contemplating a program containing works by Purcell, Handel, and Haydn -- three composers who have rarely indeed shared a bill -- he learned that Haydn, on a visit to London, played music by Purcell and remarked on both its beauty and difficulty. The connections of each of these composers with Handel, intervening on the chronological scale, are better known, and although you wouldn't look for Handel/Haydn links in the realm of keyboard music, Pinnock brings these to light, as well. The later of the two Haydn keyboard sonatas included, the Sonata in G major, Hob. 16/27, might well have been composed for the piano, and Pinnock resorts to some registration tricks to pull it off. Somehow this works: the entire program isn't one that wouldn't have been heard in the 18th century (nor, for that matter, would the modern kind of piano recital have been heard much in the 19th), but Pinnock in this case isn't aiming for authenticity, he is aiming to shake off the all-encompassing dominance of thinking in terms of historical periods as listeners react to music. A fresh round of inspiration from a master of historical performance. The live sound is straightforward and close-in, and the delightful booklet, containing such intriguing information as the fact that Pinnock's father was a Salvation Army bandleader, is another plus.
Suites by Purcell and Handel; Sonatas by Haydn Review
by James Manheim