Music Reviews

TENET Opens Its Season with Rovetta

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

To open its tenth season, TENET Vocal Artists—an ensemble of varying numbers of singers and instrumentalists under the artistic direction of the sweet-voiced soprano Jolle Greenleaf—constructed a program of mostly sacred works by Giovanni Rovetta. I’ll go out on a limb here and wager that most readers of this blog haven’t heard of him; I certainly hadn’t, and I’ve been following these things for half a century.

The New Season: Capriccio Baroque, The Cramer Quartet

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

The fall season has truly begun, and while I usually write about the New York scene, I can think of no better way of resuming this blog than by turning my attention to another metropolis for the series opener of the Capriccio Baroque series in DC, which took place on September 15. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll point out that the series is the sponsor for this blog and that the soloist was the harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky, whom I also know as my wife.

Academy of Sacred Drama: The Year of Judith

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

It’s summer, and harpsichord concerts have slowed down in New York City, which gives me a chance to look back at last season and mention an ambitious new series.

Fête Galante: Andrew Appel, Four Nations Ensemble with Sherezade Panthaki

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger


Italian Academy, May 17, 2018

Mahan Esfahani rehearsing in Weill Recital Hall

Mahan Esfahani at Carnegie

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

Mahan Esfahani, who performed the Goldberg Variations in New York City in the fall (see my earlier post), returned on May 1 for a solo recital in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. The program was a diverse one of Frescobaldi, Rameau, Benda, and Bach. The instrument was once again a French double after Hemsch and Blanchet built in 2010 by the Montreal maker Yves Beaupré—an instrument that usually resides in our living room.   The things that always stand out for me in Mahan's playing are virtuosity, varied color, and passionate commitment, all of which were very much in evidence throughout the program. The opening set of Frescobaldi pieces included the famous Toccata settima, played with freedom and brilliance...

Jean Rondeau

Goldbergs One More Time: Jean Rondeau at the Morgan

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

For the NYC performance, Jean Rondeau sat at a French double by David J. Way (1987) and opened the recital not with the famous Aria but with an apparently improvised prelude, which had the character of a prélude non mesuré from an earlier generation of clavecinistes. But then the Aria arrived, first with the standard ornamentation, then with more ornaments on the repeats, all done with skill and taste. The thirty variations that followed were impeccably rendered, by turns dazzling and sensuous...

Aya Hamada

Aya Hamada: La Dynastie Couperin

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

Sunday, April 15, 2018, L’Église Française du Saint Esprit


Bach at One

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

It was purely by chance that I learned about Bach at One. In March 2011 I was having lunch with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in months. He sang in the Trinity Wall Street choir, and I asked him what was new.

“Oh, Julian’s doing the cantatas next week.”

“Who’s Julian?”

“Julian Wachner. He’s the new music director.”

“Ah. Whose cantatas?”


“Really? Which ones?”


Rebecca Pechefsky and Couperin

“One of the greatest keyboard pieces ever written”—Wilfrid Mellers

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

Around 1973 my first lute teacher, Frank Eyler, lent me Wilfrid Mellers’s classic study on François Couperin, whose music was then entering my life.  ...About the same time, I bought the Vox Box of Couperin harpsichord suites performed by Alan Curtis—six long-playing sides that I listened to again and again, returning most frequently to the Huitième Ordre in B minor (1717). As it happens, Mellers singled out the Huitième for special praise: it was, he wrote, “almost uniformly serious, even tragic ... a good case can be made out for the eighth as the greatest individual ordre.”  So it was with great joy that my wife, Rebecca Pechefsky, and I embarked on our latest project back in January: a video of the entire suite, played on a French double-manual instrument built by Yves Beaupré in 2010 that we purchased, at least in part, with a view to recording this work.  Read on and enjoy the video here...

The Goldbergs on Harpsichord in NYC, 2017–18

Submitted by ErikRydingBlogger

Bach’s Goldberg Variations was published in Nuremberg in 1741 with the dryly descriptive title “Aria with assorted variations for a harpsichord with two manuals.” It was one of those rare works that Bach actually took the time and trouble to publish, and the work evidently represented an achievement that, as he entered what would be his final decade, he was determined to preserve for posterity.