Several decades after its revival as a concert instrument, the harpsichord is well into its second renaissance. This new album by the Canadian harpsichordist Vivienne Spiteri features six works written for the instrument since the mid-seventies.
Included are pieces by Louis Andriessen and Bengt Hambraeus and by lesser-known Dutch and Canadian composers. Spiteri has been touring with this repertoire for some time, and her recorded efforts have a mature, authoritative sound.
Several of the pieces display curiosity about the harpsichord’s distinctive sonority, and a few make feints in the direction of its brave baroque past. Hambraeus’ Capriccio I, for example, is sprinkled with souvenirs of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century idioms, the easy co-existence of which suggests a notion of the tradition that is like a view through several translucent panes of glass.
Hope Lee’s Melboac rigorously parses the permutations of her virile sonograms, while Andriessen’s Overture to Orpheus sets up a languid canon of voices so close as to seem each other’s shadow. Tim Brady’s Reaching Past and Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux’s Miroirs use electronics to play with some of the harpsichord’s steelier sonorities, while Ton de Leeuw’s acoustic, Mo-Do has a contemplative Oriental cast.
In all, this is a fine release from Société nouvelle d’enregistrement, and a brilliant debut album for Spiteri.