Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643, Italian)

Aria detta La Frescobalda, Corrente in F major, Five Galliards, 12 Partite sopra l’aria di Ruggiero. Rafael Puyana July 1962 in Rafael Puyana Baroque Masterpieces for the Harpsichord (+ pieces of Giovanni Picchi, Telemann, CPE Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer). Mercury 462 959-2 (1999). The CD reissue collates the complete contents of Mercury LP SR90259 (Picchi, Frescobaldi) and half of SR90411 (“Baroque Masterpieces for the Harpsichord”). It’s a marvelous recital, Puyana “interprets”, e.g. elaborates on the very bare scores with much imagination and freedom.

Keyboard Works. Robert Wolley (harpsichord). EMI Reflexe CDC 7 47735 2 (1987)
A Frescobaldi recital that I’ve had in my collection for decades and found terribly boring, and returned to once in a while to check if my impressions had changed and they never did, raising some doubt on the great standing that Frescobaldi and his keyboard music seem to enjoy with the scholars – until I heard the Frescobaldi recital on accordion by Stefan Hussong referenced hereafter, and realized it wasn’t the composer who was boring, but the interpreter.

Stefan Hussong (accordion) plays Frescobaldi. Thorofon CTH 2349 (1999)
I’m a great fan of the accordion, both in contemporary music where its timbral richness and eeriness works wonders, and in 17th/18th Century keyboard music where I find that the instrument, while retaining all the advantages of a keyboard instrument, often sounds better than harpsichord, organ and even piano. Interpretively, Hussong is also much livelier and than Woolley, with – instrumental timbres helping – an ” invigorating earthiness”.

Frescobaldi Dialogues. Francesco Tristano Schlimé. CD + DVD Bonus. Sysiphe008 (2007). A very original, even outlandish, approach by a maverick-pianist, pasting different Toccatas together, cutting in others, and interspersing them with his own improvisations. But a chance also to hear the Toccatas played at the piano. Unlike Bach,  Scarlatti, Rameau, Couperin or Handel, Frescobaldi is a composer that pianists have yet to tackle.

Canzoni from “Il primo libro delle Canzoni ad una, due, trè e quattro voci” 1623. Kees Boeke (soprano and tenor recorder), Wouter Möller (baroque cello), Bob van Asperen (harpsichord and positive organ). EMI Reflexe CDC 7 63140 2 (1989) barcode 077776314020, EMI Reflexe 8 26533 2 (2000) barcode 724382653325. This review is more an introduction to the EMI Reflexe label and its glorious covert art from the 1970s, than of the music, which I find, under the surface of liveliness, gentle and sweet and ultimately rather boring, music not to disturb the courtly patrons.