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A rare early 17th-century Italian harpsichord in the Fitzwilliam Museum provides Sophie Yates with the perfect instrument for this disc of music associated with the collection of Viscount Fitzwilliam. This instrument originally had three sets of 8ftstrings, probably in the 18th century reduced to two, and now as restored has three sets of jacks, the front and back row plucking the same set of strings at different places, the middle row the second set of strings. This allows for quite a varied range of tone colour, which Yates uses to great effect. Her playing is a delight, demonstrating great understanding of both music and instrument. Works from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book occupy the larger part of the programme, with the Passamezzo Pavan and Galliard by Peter Philips particularly impressive. Other works from the collection include the Toccata settima of Frescobaldi, which receives one of the finest performances I have heard, and three sonatas from an Amsterdam collection of 1705 bought by Fitzwilliam in 1771. The meantone tuning enhances all of this repertoire, and enables it to be heard as it would have been when the harpsichord was first made. A lovely recording, highly recommended.

DOUGLAS HOLLICK Read the full review on Agora Classica


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