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Posts tagged 'harpsichord'

The Modern Harpsichord

Since the revival of early and baroque music in the second half of the twentieth century, the harpsichord has increased in visibility and prominence: it can now be found in conservatories and classrooms across the globe. Familiar repertoire is prolific and celebrated, but the harpsichord isn't a mere historical relic. Since Ligeti's celebrated 1968 work for the instrument, Continuum, modernists and post-modernists alike have used the harpsichord for its inherent qualities: intensity of attack, quickness of decay, depth of tone.

We're excited to have two contemporary works for this instrument available from PSNY, and a number of other works available from Schott music. Besides Ligeti's compositions for the instrument-- including Continuum, Hungarian Rock, and Passacaglia Ungherese-- take a look at Alvin Singleton's hypnotic, minimal Le Tombeau du Petit Prince, and Lei Liang's Some Empty Thoughts of a Person from Edo, in whch the instrument's resonance with East Asian stringed instruments, raw emotion, and hints of the baroque come together in a virtuosic, powerful composition. 

Lei Liang and Anne Cleare in Boston and Berlin

The Boston Early Music Festival might not be a place one would expect to hear contemporary works, but this year the festival is turning that notion on its head by including Lei Liang's 2001 composition, Some Empty Thoughts of a Person from Edo, performed by harpsichordist Takae Ohnishi, on June 11th at the First Lutheran Church in Boston. Ohnishi, who commissioned the work, premiered it in Osaka in 2001. Liang's Empty Thoughts are, of course, the opposite: the piece is based on a transcription from Liang's own improvisation at the keyboard, making this piece the embodiment of the fullness of Liang's creativity. Pianist Gloria Cheng recently gave a powerful performance of the work as part of the Piano Spheres series at The Colburn School. The striking instrument, seen in the video below, was built by Cheng's husband, Lefteris Padavos: a double-manual based on a model by the master 18th-century builder, Pascal Taskin. The instrument is a perfect complement to the contemporary canon - from its stylishly unique collapsible stand to its adjustable keyboard which allows for performance at both lower historical tuning standards and as well at modern pitch. 


Also in June is the premiere of Ann Cleare's work for brass quintet, mire|...|veins, by Ensemble Apparat. The performance, on June 27th, takes place in the heart of Berlin's Mitte district, in a 19th-century villa attached to St. Elizabeth's church. We look forward publishing mire|...|veins  following the premiere. In the meantime, have a listen below to Ann's string quartet, moil

More news is coming this week, so check back soon! 

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