Robert Aldwinckle is an accomplished player, well known beyond early-music circles. He offers here a potpourri of familiar harpsichord pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, intended as an introduction, which he performs on two replica instruments built by John Horniblow. The choice of repertoire is a little surprising in its omissions (not a note of Frescobaldi, Froberger, Purcell or the Bachs) and its ordering (neither chronological nor strictly ordered by nationality), but it is confidently performed.
He begins with a hefty dose of Rameau: three rustic pieces de caractere (including the ubiquitous La poule) and the ingenious
Transported cross-channel we are treated to the Couperins; it is a little puzzling that while Francois—not Louis—was called ''Couperin le Grand'', he is accorded only one piece, his uncle two. A chaconne by Louis is a must, La Piemontoise less important; likewise Francois's Les baricades misterieuses is certainly one of everyone's favourites. At this point, the Rameau pieces might have been included—or for that matter familiar pieces by d'Anglebert, Duphly or Balbastre rather than so many of Rameau's. Instead, Aldwinckle returns to the Venetian copy for the astonishing
Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith, with its virtuoso air and variations comes next, followed by Paradis's misnamed toccata (really the second movement of his sixth sonata di gravicembalo). He concludes with two works borrowed from the fortepiano which inevitably suffer from the harpsichord's limitations of articulation and dynamics: Mozart's Rondo alla turca (oh, for a Janissary stop!) and Fantasia in D minor.
Throughout, Aldwinckle demonstrates a fluent and clean technique yet when individual pieces are compared with other interpretations his want shape and nuance. Still, many will be delighted to find so many of the harpsichord 'classics' gathered together on a single budget-price Compact Disc.'