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Music for Harpsichord

Elizabeth Farr , Balbastre Claude-Benigne Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 18.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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A celebrated keyboardist and composer under the ancien regime, Claude-Benigne Balbastre survived the French Revolution only to die in poverty a decade later. His multifaceted musical legacy continued the strong tradition of French harpsichord music wh

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Having a Bal-bastre Feb. 20 2010
By Craig M. Zeichner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Probably best-known as an organist--Claude-Bénigne Balbastre's charming noëls are most familiar--but his harpsichord music has enjoyed little acclaim. Balbastre (1727-1799) was a virtuoso organist known for his quirky improvisations during church services and also remembered as a friend to the aristocracy during the final years of the ancient régime. Balbastre taught Marie-Antoinette the harpsichord but fortunately dodged the guillotine blade when revolutionary murderers changed France forever. Fondly remembered by Charles Burney in his Present State of Music in France and Italy, Balbastre died in poverty. Thanks to the always excellent harpsichordist Elizabeth Farr for serving up this recording of Balbastre's highly engaging music.

Balbastre was certainly no Couperin or Rameau (with whom he studied) but there is plenty of excellent music to enjoy. Fairly typical of the period, Balbastre's Pièces de clavecin is comprised of little character portraits. These are filled with an equal mix of wit and tenderness. La Castelmore opens with a delicious imitation of country pipers while its second part is marked by its gentle sweetness. The balance of the recording features a sampling of Balbastre's Livre contenant des pieces de different genre d'orgue et de clavecin, a collection of 75 works for keyboard. Farr plays eight of the 24 works for harpsichord. She closes the program with the Marche des Marseillois et l'air Ça-ira, a set of variations on the revolutionary tunes la Marseillaise and Ça ira. It's a kind of bittersweet snapshot of Balbastre's place in revolutionary France.

Farr plays a big Keith Hill harpsichord with two buff stops. Perhaps not exactly the harpsichord Balbastre would have played--French harpsichords with 16' stops have not survived--but it sure sounds good. Big bass sound and tasteful use of the buff stops make this outstanding at every turn.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balbastre harpsichord works Feb. 14 2010
By r.b. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Elizabeth Farr is at her best when playing French Baroque music as her latest recording demonstrates.The compositions of Claude Balbastre actually belong to the Rococo period when the older Baroque style was giving way to a newer and less "dense" kind of music and his principal book of harpsichord pieces were printed in 1759.It's pleasent and pretty typical 18th century French music,with plenty of ornamentation but no match when compared to Couperin, Rameau or Dandrieu.

Elizabeth Farr plays very well here and is helped not only by the grandeur of a 16ft stop harpsichord but also the excellent sound engineering of Wolfgang Rubsam.

Well worth a listen!!

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