This recording of Balbastres Pièces de clavecin was made using a recent copy of the harpsichord built by Jean-Henri Hemsch in 1736. Hemsch is regarded as one of the most important Parisian harpsichord builders. Born near Cologne in 1700 as Johann Heinrich, he moved to Paris at the age of 28 to spend six years as an apprentice to Antoine Vater, another German émigré. Hemsch left the service of Vater to become an independent builder in 1734 and began work on his first instrument, finished two years later. The proportions of this instrument resemble those of the later harpsichords built by his master, Vater, on which Hemsch worked as an apprentice, although some characteristic details are Hemschian innovations. The resulting instrument is a double manual disposed with two eight foot choirs and one four foot, giving a very unusual level of colour diversity within each register – a quality only very few modern builders are capable of reproducing. Later in his career, Hemsch became supplier and tuner of harpsichords to the art patron la Pouplinière, who accommodated Jean-Philippe Rameau as well as promoting his work. The original instrument from 1736, rarely copied because of its complexity, is at present to be found in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, U.S. of A. The award-winning instrument used on this recording was built by Augusto Bonza (Turbigo, 2011). It takes a place of honour in Korneel Bernolet’s collection.
Total time: 01:14:27
|Original Recording Format|
Sphinx by Merging
Sonodore, DPA, Neumann
Academiezaal Sint Truiden Belgium
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||June 6, 2015|
There are only a handful of current discs of Balbastre’s First Collection for Harpsichord, so I extend a warm welcome to Aliud’s new contribution, especially in high resolution audio played by the young Belgian Korneel Bernolet (b.1989). Bernolet, is a recital soloist and conductor. He teaches in Belgium and has been awarded a number of awards for both his harpsichord playing and his conducting. Bernolet’s instrument is a recent copy of an instrument by Jean-Henry Hemsch from 1736, and it is the co-star of this recording. Hemsch was regarded as a premier builder of harpsichords in Paris, and this double-manual instrument with two 8′ and one 4′ disposition has a very unusually high level of color within each register, as superbly demonstrated in this recording.
Here we have one of the most natural and affecting portrayals of this wonderful Hemsch instrument. Jos Boerland settles for a fairly close but airy recording from the Sint-Truiden Church in Belgium, which might well mimic the acoustics of a Rococo salon in Paris. Bernolet’s clear articulation, especially in the rich and solid bass, is fully projected, and he ranges tellingly through the two dispositions, the two 8′ sets of strings having quite different characters to display. At times, for increased brilliance, he brings in the brighter 4′, but all of these changes are orchestrated with true gallic sensitivity and panâche.
Musically entertaining and informative, with unwavering keyboard mastery in performance and endowed with one of the best recordings of a harpsichord I have come across. Strongly recommended.
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