Jane Chapman (harpsichord)

LIFEM 50th Anniversary Gala Concert

Jane Chapman

Performed on a Taskin harpsichord with its rich timbre, this gala programme explores the vast repertory of contrasting harpsichord music. La Volta by William Byrd was most likely composed for virginals and Roxanna Panufnik’s new work inspired by Byrd’s Pavana Lachrymae is conceived for the double manual harpsichord with all its colourful registration.

Vocal music and song is a central theme, from Roxanna’s take on Dowland’s Flow, my tearsto Hindustani Airs – evocative transcriptions of Indian songs first published in Calcutta for harpsichord in 1789. Babell’s arrangement of Vo far guerra from Handel’s opera Rinaldo was performed in London by Signora Pilotti who is referred to in the score, and reimagines Handel himself improvising at the harpsichord.

Dramatic and programmatic, Le Vertigo by the opera composer Royer takes us to into the world of theatre. He was a rival of Rameau’s, actually getting into a fight with him according to a police report of the time. Two contrasting suites reveal differences in style between the 18th- and 17th-century composers François Couperin and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. The 8th Ordre is known for its grand Passacaglia and Elisabeth was highly revered for her improvisatory skills, exemplified in her unmeasured preludes.

Byrd, birds and Bird all come into play with the delicacy of the lovelorn nightingale by François Couperin and energy and humour of Rameau’s La Poule with the actual sound of the chicken getting the piece underway – co co co co co coco dai. Purcell’s Chacone has an extraordinarily catchy bass line and was most likely played on a spinet.

Fantasy and expressive freedom comes to the fore in early keyboard toccatas, and unmeasured preludes by Frescobaldi and Froberger and JS Bach's daring Chromatic Fantasy.

J.S. Bach (1685–1750)
Chromatic Fantasia (BWV 903)

François Couperin (1668–1733)
Huitiême Ordre (La Raphaèle, Second Courante, Sarabande L’Unique, Gavotte, Rondeau, Passacaille)

Johann Jacob Froberger (1616–1667)
Toccata in G Major

Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643)
Toccata Quarta (Per L’Organo da sonarsi all levationi)

Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre (1665–1729)
Suite in A minor (Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, Chaconne)

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer (1703–1755)
Tambourin, Le Vertigo

Roxanna Panufnik (b. 1968)
WORLD PREMIERE: Tears, no more

Hindustani Airs from the Oriental Miscellany
adapted by William Hamilton Bird (c.1750 – c.1804)
Bird No. XI Shīsha mērā pyār ‘Glass/mirror, my love…’
Bird No. XV Merā pyāra ab āyā re ‘My beloved has now come, dear’

G.F. Handel (1685–1759) arranged by William Babell (1690–1723)
Vo far guerra (from the opera Rinaldo)

William Byrd (1543–1623)
La Volta

Henry Purcell (1659–1695)
Chacone in G Minor

François Couperin
Le Rossignol en amour (Quatorzième ordre)

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764)
La Poule


This concert was performed at the London International Festival of Early Music, St Michael and All Angels Church, London on 9th November 2023.

Running time: 1 hour and 26 mins

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