Nowadays many performers want to play music written for piano on the harpsichord. I began my conversation with Olga Martynova by asking what first gave her the idea. It all began a few years ago. I was curious to know how music written for another instrument would sound when played on the harpsichord. I knew that Shostakovich and Prokofiev had been played on the harpsichord but had never listened to any recordings, maybe as a conscious decision. True, I have heard contemporary music written for harpsichord, but I find it sometimes even harder to play than other compositions that were never originally intended for the instrument.
Total time: 01:00:57
Cramer, Khachaturian, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann, Shostakovich
Neumann km130 DPA (B & K) 4006 ; DPA (B & K) 4011 SCHOEPS mk2S ; SCHOEPS mk41
|Original Recording Format|
Erdo Groot, Roger de Schot
5th Studio of The Russian Television and Radio
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||October 23, 2015|
“Caro Mitis is a label that I followed from the first time I heard their work on SACD. In fact, I have most every SACD that Caro Mitis ever issued; yes, that is how impressed I was with this exceptional library of albums. Fine Russian artists recorded directly to Single DSD via the EMM Labs A/D and the Sonoma workstation? Sign me up! This album – Everything You Wanted to Know about the Harpsichord, but Were Afraid to Ask – is a diverse collection of works performed on harpsichord, an instrument that captured my heart as soon as I heard it in my childhood. Performed by the artist Olga Martynova, who obviously has an excellent feel for these works, I was carried away by the album from the first until the last song. Track 3, Khachaturian’s “Invention: Adagio from the ballet Gayane,” will be familiar to anyone who’s watched Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey.” This haunting composition always moves me to melancholy; there’s something of childhood’s end in its notes. Martynova has just the right touch, and the recording captures the rich tones, overtones, and percussives of the instrument that she has mastered. Every track on this album is a joy…taste and see!”
– from the booklet of the album NDSD006 ‘Positive Feedback DSD Sampler’
Russian harpsichordist Olga Martynova has picked pieces that are predominantly polyphonic in character, with Baroque-like textures such as regular broken chords, even in the Khachaturian selections. Shostakovich’s preludes and fugues make a natural choice, but even the Romantic works by Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Schumann sound convincing.
The harpsichord brings out the invention-like quality of the Song Without Words in C major, Op. 67/4, for example. Comparatively few audiophile recordings have come out of Russia, but this one captures the sonic dimensions of Martynova’s contemporary Parisian copy of an eighteenth century French harpsichord.
It turns out to be breathtakingly good. Although seemingly none of the pieces were written with the harpsichord in mind, they sound just right. The tone of the French Von Nagel harpsichord is gorgeous – the deep notes sounding particularly magical.
A disc veritably bulging with highlights – the Shostakovich Fugue in A minor, the Khachaturian, the Mendelssohn (Wow!), the Schubert, the Cramer (Wow!), the Schumann – especially Mignon. Everything was selected by Olga – it’s a wonderful collection.
I’ve played only the surround program. The sound quality is to die for.
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