Contrapunctus VIII from Bach’s The Art of Fugue, performed on the harpsichord by Davitt Moroney. Live, 4K UHD video from the Voices of Music Celebration of Bach concert, September, 2015.
Davitt Moroney is Professor of Music at UC Berkeley, where he is also University Organist and Director of the University Baroque Ensemble. He has made about 70 commercial CDs, especially of music by Bach, Byrd, and members of the Couperin family; many of these recording have been on instruments built by John Phillips. His most recent project, finished earlier this year, is a 10-CD recording of François Couperin’s complete harpsichord works (over 250 pieces), using superb antiques from the Flint Collection, wonderfully restored by John Phillips. His recordings have been awarded the French “Grand Prix du Disque,” the German “Preis der Deutschen Schallplatenkritik,” and three British “Gramophone Awards.” He is also the author of the monograph “Bach: An Extraordinary Life,” which has been translated into five languages. In 1987 he was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre du mérite culturel by Prince Rainier of Monaco and, in 2000, Officier des arts et des lettres by the French government.
Double manual harpsichord by John Phillips, after Johann Heinrich Gräbner, Dresden, 1722.
About the harpsichord made by John Phillips:
Throughout his long career, J. S. Bach would have been intimately familiar with the so-called “middle German” harpsichords made locally in Thuringia and Saxony. Three of these instruments survive which were made during Bach’s lifetime, and, of these, two instruments were built by members of the Gräbner family in Dresden, who for five generations from the 17th through the 19th centuries built and repaired organs, harpsichords, clavichords, and eventually pianos.
The instrument used in tonight’s concert is based on the 1722 Johann Heinrich Gräbner preserved in the Villa Bertramka in Prague; this instrument is the earliest of four surviving Gräbner harpsichords: the 1722 Gräbner is a very good example of the large, middle-German style from Bach’s time. It is even possible that Bach met J. H. Gräbner, as the latter was the official court tuner when Bach journeyed to Dresden to match musical skills with Louis Marchand in 1717. One of Gräbner’s sons, Christian Heinrich, later studied organ with Bach in Leipzig.
Special thanks to Peter and Cynthia Hibbard for the use of the harpsichord in our Bach concert.
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