getting giddy about scholarly playing


I am being drawn into a renewal of interest in music I have been neglecting. A couple of collections are instrumental in some of this. The first is an excellent historical edition of Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali.

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Studying under Ray Ferguson, I learned to enjoy discovering idiosyncratic historical performance practices of music by Bach, the Couperins, and the French Noel Composers (Daquin, Dandriue, and others) and many others.

Since then I have made it a point to read up on historical performance practices and have spent time with original sources like CPE Bach (Johann’s son) who wrote an extensive work called Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. I am convinced that this particular work helped shape Glenn Gould’s wonderful eccentric approach to performance.

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So now with my last project done (the Organ Dedication Recital), I find myself drawn to learning more about Italian 17th century organ performance practice as well as 18th century keyboard Spanish performance practice.

Calvert Johnson has done an amazing thing his edition of Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali. He has brought together a great deal of information about the composer and the work which is helpful to the performer. In his edition, there are about 60 pages packed full with information (as opposed to about 120 more pages of actual music). History, background of the usage of the pieces, ornamentation and fingering are all clearly and thoroughly presented. I know that Frescobaldi’s work fits nicely on my little Pasi organ at church. I have already done some playing. But I know I have much to learn. I anticipate finding gems in Frescobaldi’s work to learn and perform at church.

In addition I acquired an interesting collection of Spanish Keyboard Music. In her Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Spanish Keyboard Music Susanne Skyrn has assembled selections from seven Spanish composers who apparently were students of or writing under the influence of the my beloved Domenico Scarlatti.

Image result for skyrn anthology spanish keyboard music

I will remind readers that Scarlatti was Italian but spent most of his artistic life as a highly regarded court musician in Spain and Portugal. His music is like no other music. It incorporates his own understanding of many music practices of his time and is thought to have even been influenced by street music in Spain.

I have played a few pieces from Skyrn’s book and they are delightful. They will fit nicely on my refurbished harpsichord and they also would make nice pieces for church.

So that’s mostly on my little pea brain this morning: release from the steely discipline of having to learn music thoroughly enough to perform under the eyes of other recitalists and musicians leaves me with a new sense of excitement about what to do next.

Life is still good for me. Toujour gai, Archy, toujour gai.


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