Your guide to classical music online

Byrd: Harpsichord pieces/Leonhardt

David Vernier

Artistic Quality:

Sound Quality:

The harpsichord isn’t the most ingratiating instrument to listen to for long periods, but when you hear one that’s well-made–full-bodied, with a resonance that’s complementary and well-integrated across registers (no clangorous bass trying to meld with tinny treble), you’re in for what can be a very satisfying experience. And just how satisfying depends on the player and how he or she uses the particular instrument’s registers and stops, and how clearly the fingering articulates the rhythms, which means a knowledgable and skillful managing of the spaces between the notes as well as the notes themselves. Gustav Leonhardt needs no introduction to fans of the harpsichord or of early music in general; he’s one of the pioneers of modern technique and scholarship. And his instrument, a copy of the famous 1579 Lodewijk Theewes claviorgan by Malcolm Rose, is a magnificent example of 16th-century keyboard construction. This harpsichord can really make a sound–and the recording (you can really turn it up!) fully complements the instrument’s very personable timbre and room-filling dynamic range. Not that Byrd’s music is especially flamboyant–but the harpsichord’s substantial tone allows these 14 pieces to move easily from parlor to concert hall with no degradation of their subtle structures or genteel dance origins. There’s nothing overtly virtuosic in Byrd’s writing–but that’s the point. These works were for relatively ordinary folks to enjoy–and there’s no doubt that if you have any interest in harpsichord music at all, when you hear Leonhardt’s performances you will be among them. [1/12/2006]


Recording Details:

WILLIAM BYRD - Selected works for Harpsichord

    Soloists: Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord)

  • Record Label: Alpha - 73
  • Medium: CD

Search Music Reviews

Search Sponsor

  • Insider Reviews only
  • Click here for Search Tips

Visit Our Merchandise Store

Visit Store
  • Ideally Cast Met Revival of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette
    Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; March 19, 2024—The Met has revived Bartlett Sher’s 1967 production of Gounod’s R&J hot on the heels of its
  • An Ozawa Story, November, 1969
    Much has justifiably been written regarding Seiji Ozawa’s extraordinary abilities and achievements as a conductor, and similarly about his generosity, graciousness, and sense of humor
  • Arvo Pärt’s Passio At St. John The Divine
    Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York, NY; January 26, 2024—When one thinks of musical settings of Christ’s Passion, one normally thinks of the