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CD Review

Girolamo Frescobaldi


  • Book I
  • Toccata 1 - Capriccio on La Bassa Fiammenga - Canzona 1
  • Toccata 8 - Capriccio on L'Aria Or Che noi rimena - Canzona 4
  • Toccata 11 - Variations an L'Aria detto Balletto - Ricercar 3
  • Book II
  • Toccata 5 - Partite (Variations) on L'Aria della Romanesca
  • Toccata 7 - Capriccio on La, Sol, Fa, Mi, Re, Ut
Colin Booth, harpsichord & organ
Soundboard Records SBCD201

Colin Booth plays most of this carefully constructed sequence of pieces by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) on one of his own harpsichords, which he made in Westbury sub Mendip, near Wells, modelled upon a two-keyboard instrument in Nuremberg's Germanisches National Museum.

His main scheme is to follow free Toccatas – 'schizoid and personal' – with sets of variations, rounding off each of the groups with more contrapuntal Canzone and Ricercare. They are played with the arresting piquancy of meantone tuning at A 392. This grouping of tracks in threes (or twice in twos) keeps the ear alert and engaged.

Additional variety of timbre is achieved by bringing into service an attractive small organ with only two stops, but capable of different tunings, including the one used for this recording of the harpsichord. The music comes alive under the versatile hands of this creator of beautiful instruments who has mastered the very different skills to play them to best advantage, with musicological knowledge to draw upon to support his interpretations. Naturally the informative notes are his own too, as is the woodland idyll (presumably from his home territory) his own photo!

Copyright © 2003, Peter Grahame Woolf