Frescobaldi harpsichord

Frescobaldi: Works for Harpsichord
Gustav Leonhardt
Philips 432 128


  1. Toccata decima (1615)
  2. Toccata undecima (1615)
  3. Recercar nono, con quattro soggetti (1615)
  4. Canzona quarta (1627)
  5. Canzon terza, detta la Crivelli (1645)
  6. Partite sopra Folia (1615)
  7. Capriccio di durezze (1624)
  8. Toccata settima (1615)
  9. Capriccio sopra un soggetto (1624)
  10. Fantasia terza, sopra un soggetto solo (1608)
  11. Toccata seconda (1627)
  12. Balletto I, corrente e passacagli (1637)
  13. Balletti II e corrente (1637)
  14. Fantasia nona, sopra trè soggetti (1608)
  15. Toccata decima (1627)

Playing time: 58'

Recording date: September 1990

Instrument: Harpsichord, Bom (1987)

Frescobaldi holds an easy pre-eminence among Italian keyboard composers of the period. He was able to combine the disparate styles of Northern & Southern Italy into a unified idiom. To this he added a formal invigoration based upon new rhythmic & harmonic ideas.

Even though there was a great deal of keyboard music composed in Italy prior to Frescobaldi, he is often taken as the beginning of an era, for he was the first to have a large influence throughout Europe. Although criticized for his poor literary training, no one was able to criticize his keyboard virtuosity.

The present performance includes a broad range of Frescobaldi's work, including the less-known Fantasias (showing a Renaissance idiom). His toccatas & capriccios are generally his best-known works.

Other good introductory discs:

Harpsichord Music of Frescobaldi
Colin Tilney
Dorian 90124
Frescobaldi: Partite & Toccate
Pierre Hantaï
Astrée 8585
Frescobaldi: Intavolature di Cimbalo
Enrico Baiano
Symphonia 02202
Frescobaldi: Harpsichord Works
Aapo Häkkinen
Alba Records 178
Frescobaldi: Toccatas & danses
Scott Ross
Virgin "Veritas" 61398
Frescobaldi: Pièces de clavecin
Blandine Verlet
Astrée 8654
Frescobaldi: Harpsichord Works
Laurent Stewart
Pierre Vérany 794032

Leonhardt's other recordings:

Frescobaldi: Il Primo Libro de Capricci
Gustav Leonhardt
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77071
The Art of Frescobaldi
Gustav Leonhardt
Vanguard Classics 1280 (2 CDs)

Many of Frescobaldi's works are also well-suited to organ. A specific organ cycle is the Fiori Musicali (1635), a collection of two organ masses. A fine cycle:

Frescobaldi: Fiori Musicali, vol. 1
Messa della Domenica
Lorenzo Ghielmi / Canticum
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77331

And an older, general collection on organ:

Frescobaldi: Orgues italiens - Brescia et Bastia
René Saorgin
Harmonia Mundi "musique d'abord" 190 1229

A recording devoted specifically to Frescobaldi's late keyboard canzoni publication:

Frescobaldi: Canzoni alla francese
Roberto Loreggian
Tactus 580603

A couple of prominent cycles recording most of Frescobaldi's published keyboard output:

Frescobaldi: Il Primo Libro di Toccata
Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord)
Arcana 904 (2 CDs)
Frescobaldi: Toccate e Partite d'Intavolatura, Libro Primo
Sergio Vartolo
Tactus 580680 (3 CDs)

A few other cycles which begin to traverse Frescobaldi's keyboard music in a methodical way:

Frescobaldi: Toccatas & Partitas
Fabio Bonizzoni
Glossa 921514 [CDx2]
Frescobaldi: Volume 1
Richard Lester
Nimbus 5850
Frescobaldi: 2nd Book of Toccatas
Cesare Atticciata
Bongiovanni 5527
Frescobaldi: Toccate e Partite d'Intavolatura di cimbalo
Laura Alvini
Fonit Cetra Italia 36

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Todd M. McComb