Harpsichord recording begins

Prima Facie’s project to record a programme of significant 20th century works for harpsichord has been in the planning for some time, but Covid-19 restrictions have, until now, prevented a start on recording. We’re pleased to report that a first session was completed on Wednesday 7th April, 2021, at which Duncan Honeybourne recorded Kenneth Leighton’s Improvisations (De profundis) Op. 76 (1976/7) and Ronald Stevenson’s four-movement Sonata for harpsichord (1968), as seen in the video below. Recording took place at the RNCM on their 1973 two-manual Goble harpsichord. This instrument was chosen as it is of a type for which these pieces were composed – Stevenson’s Sonata in particular indicates the use of a 16-foot stop.   

Our search for repertoire revealed many fine works; certainly more than could be accommodated on a single CD, and it was therefore decided to make it a double! Such an approach, however, also suggested that involving two players could be advantageous, and although the result will be two separate and distinct CDs representative of the individual players and the repertoire chosen, both are integral to the concept of the overall project.

The other works on the CD by Duncan Honeybourne – Malcolm Lipkin’s Metamorphosis (1974) and John McCabe’s The Greensleeves Ground (1969), will be recorded on the same instrument in August. With the exception of the Leighton, all will be premiere recordings.

Also in August, it is planned to record the companion CD, which will contain Stephen Dodgson’s Sonata-Divisions (1982) and his Inventions – Set Five (1993). The remainder of the programme will be Elizabeth Maconchy’s Notebook for harpsichord (1966 dedicated to Zuzana Růžičková) and her Sonatina (1972). The harpsichordist will be Katarzyna Kowalik, playing her own harpsichord made by Andrew Garlick in 2012 after an instrument by Claude Goujon (1749). It is constructed along historic lines and of a type on which Stephen Dodgson became used to hearing his harpsichord music played. These will all be premiere recordings, and result in Dodgson’s complete harpsichord music being available on CD.  
Andrew Mayes