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Old December 14 2012, 07:18 AM   #743
Location: Maryland
Re: La-La Land to release 15-disc original series score set

JimZipCode wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
Were the "Squire of Gothos" cues really played on a harpsichord, or was it the Hammond organ faking a harpsichord? Can Hammond organs do that? Because the tone quality of that instrument was not very pleasant to my ear, and I'm wondering if it's because it was a substitute for the real thing, or because the real thing genuinely sounds like that.
I don't know what was done in this performance, but the harpsichord is famously kind of harsh and dry. There's a reason we listen to the Well Tempered Clavier mainly on piano, now.
Hey, speak for yourself. For nearly 200 years after the introduction of the piano, it was simply assumed that if the Baroque composers had had access to pianos they would have naturally preferred them. Only in the mid-20th century did the harpsichord revival occur - that is, only then did successful recreations of original harpsichords (many of which were not only in sad condition but had been modified over the years) begin to appear, together with an appreciation of what they could offer that playing the same music on piano could not.

I could go into many specifics (I have a master's degree in harpsichord performance) but my main point is that even today there are radio stations that will only play piano recordings of baroque keyboard solo music - where I live, it's nearly always Andras Schiff or Murray Perahia with one of the Bach suites or partitas or the Italian Concerto - and although these guys are good players, it is simply not true that piano is the superior instrument for music not written for it, and I hate that there are radio stations still stuck in the attitudes that prevailed before 1950 or so in this regard.

As for the instrument heard in "The Squire of Gothos," it has an unusually brittle sound that I associate with the German 20th-century "factory" harpsichords such as Wittmayer, which generally use pedals to change registration; these are very heavily built and don't sound much like instruments based on authentic ones of the era. It's more likely that recording studios in L.A. in the 1960s had one of these than a proper one by Hubbard or Dowd, who remain among the best-known U.S. makers. I don't think a Hammond organ was used.

[I myself, having children in the house, own a Roland C80-AK that emulates quite well several different harpsichord registrations and provides proper touch (a good sense of where the "ictus" is) and key width; also it's relatively portable and doesn't go out of tune, and offers all manner of non-equal temperament tunings at the touch of a button.]
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