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Portrait of an English Harpsichord

James Nares Lesson 1 in G Major
Johann Christian Bach Sonata Op 5 No 6 in C Minor
Thomas Gladwin Sonata No 5 in G Major
Thomas Arne Sonata No 1 in F Major
Joseph Kelway Sonata No 4 in C Minor
Joseph Gibbs Sonata No 2 in A Major
George Frederick Handel Suite No 5 in E Major

Steven Devine with Catherine Martin (violin)

Finchcocks Press FPCD004

Steven Devine has long been known to me through Richard Burnett's Finchcocks Musical Museum in Kent, a visitor-friendly collection of which he has been Assistant Curator since 1996 and where concerts are held regularly.

This valuable compilation lets one hear music of the period by English and adopted English composers; for many, the neames of J C Bach, Handel and Arne may be the only ones familiar. The music collected here is mostly from mid-18th C, and it is all attractive and played with sensitivity in autoritative style by Steven Devine, one of the best scholar-harpsichordists around.

The harpsichord in question is a fine Kirckmann of 1756, prepared to perfection (with "raven and organic turkey quills") by Bill Dow.

Well recorded at Finchcocks in 2005, it will grace anyone's collection without duplicating music they are likely to have already, save for Handel's ever-popular Suite No. 5, the one with "The Harmonious Blacksmith".

The CD is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a lovely violin sonata by Joseph Gibbs (published 1746), played in ideal baroque style by Catherine Martin on a contemporary Milanese violin made the previous year. It is also interesting to have her providing a simpler accompaniment to the harpsichord from Gladwin's Lessons for the Harpsichord & Violin.

A lovely CD produced to highest standards, with full, elegant documentation; warmly recommended.

Peter Grahame Woolf