VINCENT PERSICHETTI (1915-1987): Harpsichord Sonatas No. 1, Op. 52, No. 3, Op. 149, No. 5, Op. 152, No. 8, Op. 158 and No. 9, Op. 163, Serenade No. 15, Op. 161.
Catalogue Number: 07T010
Description: Persichetti was perhaps pre-eminent among composers who embraced the twentieth-century revival of the harpsichord, and it is surprising that his ten sonatas for the instrument, which combine entirely idiomatic harpsichord writing with thorough exploration of the potential of the modern harpsichord and a contemporary vocabulary free of pastiche, are not better known. These sonatas all weigh in at around the ten-minute mark, all are in a traditional three-movement form, and all make use of classical forms - sonata, rondo and so on. Clear and intricate counterpoint, which the instrument does so well, is central to Persichetti's harpsichord style, and he clearly relished the possibilities of registration and dynamics afforded by the large two-manual modern instrument. His idiom is characteristically varied, from very tonal hymn-like chorale slow movements to brittle toccatas and recitatives with astringent modern harmony allied with baroque figuration to highly chromatic contrapuntal movements. Everything sounds entirely natural and pleasing to the ear, but represents a fresh and original contribution to the harpsichord literature. Christopher D. Lewis (harpsichord).