Harmonia Early Music

Bach, Haas, Cochard, And Two Original Harpsichords

The music of Bach performed on harpsichords built in 1740 and 1751.

A view of the inside of a harpsichord.

Photo: matsuyuki (Flickr)

A view of the inside of a harpsichord.

18th Century Harpsichords

At the beginning of the 18th century, the harpsichord was rapidly changing.  Performers and composers pushed the limits of what existing harpsichords could do.  Instrument builders responded by constructing larger instruments and adding more keys to expand the instrument’s range and tonal capacity.  Some of these harpsichords were highly decorated with elaborate paintings on the soundboards, lids and casings, along with sophisticated woodworking, and gilded moldings.  Two harpsichord restored to playing condition are featured on new recordings by Violaine Cochard  and Frédérick Haas.

Violaine Cochard: Préludes et autre fantaisies

The harpsichord Violaine Cochard  plays is an original single-manual by Johann Daniel Dulcken built around 1740 in Antwerp.  It has a range of about five octaves (modern Steinway pianos have over a 7 octave range.)  On this instrument, Cochard has recorded favorite bits and pieces from the Bach harpsichord repertoire in a program which comes across to listeners as refreshingly personal.

See a video of the Dulcken instrument.

Tr. 1 Prelude (BWV 809); Tr. 5 Fughetta (BWV 902); Tr. 15 Sarabande (BWV 823)
Violaine Cochard — Bach: Préludes et autres fantaisies (Agogique, 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Frédérick  Haas: Goldberg Variations

For many harpsichordists, Bach’s Goldberg Variations are a defining work in the repertoire, and with this recording, Frédérick Haas adds his name to a long list of performers who have given remarkable interpretations of the work. Haas plays a French harpsichord built by Henri Hemsch in 1751.  Among other things that distinguish French and German harpsichords, coupling systems and keyboard mechanisms require different kinds of touch and articulation from the player. The liner notes included with this recording put it best: Haas’ role as an interpreter is to make sure that his French harpsichord speaks decent German.

Tr. 1 Aria; Tr. 24 Variation ; Tr. 27 Variation
Frédérick Haas — Bach: Goldberg Variations (La Dolce Volta, 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Tr. 1 Prelude (BWV 809); Tr. 5 Fughetta (BWV 902); Tr. 15 Sarabande (BWV 823)
Violaine Cochard — Bach: Préludes et autres fantaisies (Agogique, 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 1 Aria; Tr. 24 Variation ; Tr. 27 Variation
Frédérick Haas — Bach: Goldberg Variations (La Dolce Volta, 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Janelle Davis

Janelle Davis is a violinist and performer with period instrument ensembles throughout the United States. She is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University, Bloomington where she specializes in early music.

View all posts by this author »

  • Kittybriton KB

    I love the comment about Haas making sure his instrument speaks good German! As an instrument maker myself I continue to take an interest in the design of harpsichords, sticking my nose into them whenever I have a chance!

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Harmonia Early Music:

More Subscription Options

Follow Us

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Harmonia Early Music

About The Hosts

Search Harmonia Early Music

where to hear harmonia