SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

“Toccatas” – Modern American Music for Harpsichord – Works of MEL POWELL, HENRY COWELL, NED ROREM, SAMUEL ADLER, ROBERT MUCZYNSKI, THOMAS BENJAMIN, ROBERT MOEVES, STEPHEN BLUMBERG, PATRICIA MOREHEAD & HAROLD MELTZER – Jory Vinikour, harpsichord – Sono Luminus (Pure Audio Blu-ray+CD)

Hi-res program of contemporary works for harpsichord.

Published on November 6, 2013

“Toccatas” – Modern American Music for Harpsichord – Works of MEL POWELL, HENRY COWELL, NED ROREM, SAMUEL ADLER, ROBERT MUCZYNSKI, THOMAS BENJAMIN, ROBERT MOEVES, STEPHEN BLUMBERG, PATRICIA MOREHEAD & HAROLD MELTZER – Jory Vinikour, harpsichord – Sono Luminus (Pure Audio Blu-ray+CD)

“Toccatas” – Modern American Music for Harpsichord – Works of MEL POWELL, HENRY COWELL, NED ROREM, SAMUEL ADLER, ROBERT MUCZYNSKI, THOMAS BENJAMIN, ROBERT MOEVES, STEPHEN BLUMBERG, PATRICIA MOREHEAD & HAROLD MELTZER [TrackList follows] – Jory Vinikour, harpsichord – Sono Luminus Pure Audio Blu-ray+CD DSL-92174, 61:41 (7.1 DTS-HD MA 24/96, 5.1 DTS-HD MA 24/192K, 2.0 PCM 24/192K) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Many of the works heard here were created especially for Mr. Vinikour. The latest in hi-res formats for physical discs here reproduces the works in their best possible sonic reality.  One reviewer said that Vinikour “takes toccatas where they have never gone before.” Vinikour has recorded works of Bach, Handel and Rameau, and is well known as a continuo artist and repetiteur. His recording of the complete harpsichord works of Rameau was nominated for a Grammy last year. The harpsichord was built in Paris by Nicolas Dumont in 1707 and was in a solon for three centuries. It had been saved from damage in the French Revolution by being hidden in an estate’s granary. In 2005 the double-manual harpsichord was copied by Thomas and Barbara Wolf.

After John Challis and others in the U.S. began building harpsichords that were more like the historical models rather than the heavy piano-like instruments favored by Wanda Landowska and others, many both Neo-Baroque and avant-garde composers wrote works for the instrument. Harpsichordist and musicologist Ralph Kirkpatrick also had an impact on them. Mel Powell’s works was written for the often flamboyant American harpsichordist Fernando Valenti, while Henry Cowell’s Set of Four was composed for Kirkpatrick.

Samuel Adler’s three-movement Sonata was written for harpsichordist-composer Barbara Harbach, and Robert Moevs Saraband was created for Vinkour’s professor Charlotte Mattax-Moersch. In Tourbillon Galaxy Patricia Morehead wanted to create a Rameau-style perpetuum mobile, but she had in mind a vision of a distant galaxy in space comprised of whirlwinds and violent storms. The 11 minutes of Five Toccatas by Harold Meltzer which close the program were written for Vinikour and to the composer they seem to be a mix Scarlatti, Froberger and Rameau. They have so far been performed in six countries. Most of these works are not so serialized as to lose all emotional communication and become more understandable and enjoyable on repeated listenings.

I listened to the 5.1 DTS surround track thru my analog multichannel heighth preamp setting and found it superb, although the two-channel option gives an even stronger attention to detail. The idea of including a standard CD of the same thing in the package is a good one, for playing in the car and elsewhere. Though of course it lacks the great clarity of the Blu-ray.

TrackList:

Recitative and Toccata Percossa
Set of Four: Ostinato
Spiders
Harpsichord Sonata
Profiles
3 Movements
Saraband
Gyre
Tourbillon Galaxy
5 Toccatas

—John Sunier




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