Trevor Pinnock

The Harmonious Blacksmith: Favourite Harpsichord Pieces

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Trevor Pinnock is one of the world's leading exponents of historical performance practice, and this collection of Baroque keyboard favorites is one of his most successful attempts to communicate his musical values to a broad audience. These popular works are often anthologized, but seldom have they sounded as fresh and exciting as they do here. Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith and Bach's Italian Concerto are the best known of these selections, though Pinnock's playing liberates them from their use as flashy encore pieces and instead treats them as more intimate entertainments. François Couperin's magical Les baricades mistérieuses and Rameau's Gavotte Variations are also well known, and their inclusion on any disc of the harpsichord's "greatest hits" is de rigueur. Domenico Scarlatti's two Sonatas in E major are still brilliant, even at the lower tuning (A=415). The remaining works of this collection are perhaps less-widely heard, but each offers insights into both Pinnock's interpretive skills and the instrument's wealth of possibilities. Johann Caspar Fischer's plaintive Passacaglia and Joseph-Hector Fiocco's warm Adagio exploit the harpsichord's rich, harmonic sonorities, while Louis-Claude Daquin's Le Coucou shows off the instrument's secco timbre. Claude-Béninge Balbastre's character piece La Suzanne concludes the program in a striking display of contrasting moods and colorful harmonic changes.