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GRAMOPHONE (03/2016)
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Reviewer: Lindsay Kemp

‘Journey’ may not be the most imaginative of possible titles, but it will do well enough for a recital in which Trevor Pinnock revisits repertoire that has been significant in the progress of his 50-year career, upon which he offers a few reminiscences in the booklet. Some of the pieces – Byrd and Bull, Scarlatti – he has recorded before, but the rest (surprisingly so in the case of the Bach) are new to the catalogue under his hands. In each case, however, it seems that he and they go a long way back.


The music covers the two centuries of the harpsichord’s heyday, and the cosy sense of Pinnock roaming among some of his favourites is heightened by the fact that he uses the same instrument throughout, his own beloved and elegantly voiced David Jacques Way copy of a French-style double manual. Nor does he make a great deal of obvious distinction in the way that he plays them, although such is his playing that we can hardly complain. His is the fast-fingered but also beautifully controlled touch of a true harpsichordist, producing a rich sprung tone, exquisitely turned ornaments that seem to be both nimble and unhurried at the same time, and (as the flowing lines of the Bach best reveal) faultless legato. Pinnock cites Malcolm, Landowska, Leonhardt and Puyana as his early heroes, and you can hear echoes of them all in the way he doesn’t try to impose too much on the music but just lets his subtle keyboard skills and inborn musicianly wisdom give it the best possible chance to do its own talking. Not, however, that there isn’t a sure hand in the way he shapes longer pieces such as the Sweelinck and the Handel; and though you might prefer a touch more drama in Frescobaldi and fire in Scarlatti, it remains a warming pleasure to listen to music hand-picked and performed by one of the finest harpsichordists of our time.


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