Johann Jakob Froberger: Pièces de Clavessin

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Suites, Toccatas and Tombeaux for the harpsichord (WLBR 9701) David Cates, harpsichords (John Phillips, Berkeley, after Giusti; Curtis Berak, Los Angeles, after 16th century models Peter Nothnagle, engineer;Peter Nothnagle, John Phillips & Joseph Spencer, co-producers.

On his first CD recording, David Cates displays remarkable mastery of Froberger’s elusive, enigmatic style. Cates’s rhythm and emotional energy flow together in great surges of color, thought and feeling. Froberger’s genius lay in fusing the impulsiveness and brilliance of the Italian creative spirit with the dark melancholia of the Germans, and Cates is more than capable of conveying this paradox. This is a moving and mature performance that leaves the listener wondering how it is that Mr Cates has not been heard on disc before.

Two harpsichords are used; both Italians. One, after a seventeenth century original by Giusti, has the classic Italian sound: clear yet dark and deep, low tension at its best, with lots of color and sonic interest. The other by Curtis Berak, follows principles and measurements gleaned from a variety of the earliest examples of the harpsichord. Characteristically of Berak’s work, the sound is darker still and more complex, filled with rumors and innuendo- conversations from the next room, not quite discernable, lurk just beneath the surface of the sound.

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