There’s something about listening to a person who has real passion. Whether it be sport, politics or music, that knowledge and enthusiasm comes through and grabs us all in some way. Peter Hagen certainly has a passion for the harpsichord. He managed to hold our attention and at times thrill us in this 70 minute recital.
French solo harpsichord music from the 17th century is certainly a specialised area, and of the eight composers represented only two names were recognizable to me. While the works were not well known there was a surprising range of styles and character. A personal highlight was the beautiful Chaconne by Jacques Champion de Chambonnières. The lush, sweeping chords exploited the lower range of the harpsichord and Hagen’s natural sense of phrasing guided the listener through the rich harmonic progression.
The afternoon concert could also have been promoted as a demonstration of the range of tone colours and expressive devices possible on a harpsichord. The skillful use of the different manuals and stops possible on the Ruckers copy harpsichord aided this and there were many subtle changes of timbre, as well as some surprising contrasts. The crystal clear articulation on this particular instrument also highlighted the accuracy in the playing. Peter’s spoken introductions put the music in context and gave the audience something to listen for without being confused with technical analysis.
As the final concert in the second season of this Salon series it was great to see a near packed house and many familiar faces who had attended the whole series and stayed behind to enjoy a complimentary drink after the concert.