Harpsichord performances (Bach and Scarlatti)

Here’s a well-known minuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook. Old printed editions of this piece attribute it to either ‘J.S. Bach’ or ‘Anon.’, but it is now believed to be by Johann Christian Petzold. It’s played here on a single-manual harpsichord.

Next, a performance of a sonata by Scarlatti. A 2-manual harpsichord is used to great effect here. Notice how the upper manual can be ‘coupled’ to the lower one. The upper keys can be seen going down as the lower ones are played. And in this video, you can see the notation as well!

Although the harpsichord has limited dynamics, it can still sound very expressive if played beautifully. Here’s a lovely performance of a Bach prelude, played on a 2-manual harpsichord, but using only the lower manual.

If you enjoy the sound of the harpsichord, you may feel that one is not enough. OK, how about 4 harpsichords! Here’s J.S. Bach’s concerto in A minor for 4 harpsichords and strings. It’s actually an arrangement by Bach of a concerto for 4 violins by Vivaldi (op.3 no.10).