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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

The Modern Harpsichord Inauguration

Published: 25 June 2014

On 18 June, Turner Sims welcomed the inaugural concert of a beautifully restored revival harpsichord recently given to the university by a generous donor. The recital by Christopher D. Lewis was the first event of the "Making of the Modern Harpsichord" project in collaboration with the National Trust, and was hosted by the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Turner Sims.

The recital featured an outstanding example of the late twentieth-century revival harpsichord, an instrument by the renowned maker John Feldberg that was frequently used for commercial recordings in the 1970s. It has been painstakingly restored to its original glory by Bernard Taylor, who kindly donated it to the University of Southampton and the National Trust to support the Making of the Modern Harpsichord project. For the recital, which included both repertory from the harpsichord's Baroque heyday and compositions from the 20th and 21st centuries, the Feldberg harpsichord shared the stage with the Music department's historical reproduction of an 18th-century instrument by Blanchet. Moving between the "historical" and "revival" instruments, Lewis demonstrated the ways modern listeners have understood the connections between musical repertories and instrumental technology.

Christopher Lewis is a specialist on the modern harpsichord and one of two PGR researchers attached to the AHRC-funded "Making of the Modern Harpsichord" project in collaboration with the National Trust property of Mottisfont. This was the childhood home of Raymond Russell, among the most important advocates for the harpsichord of the 20th century, and the project aims to situate Russell's activities in the broader history of the harpsichord's modern revival. Lewis has recently begun a programme of recordings featuring the modern harpsichord for the international label Naxos: the first, devoted to concertos by Rutter, Glass and Françaix, was released in autumn 2013, and a solo harpsichord recording (on a newly restored Pleyel harpsichord) will be released in 2015 under the same label.

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