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04 Melisande McNabneyInspirations
Mélisande McNabney
Atma Classique ACD2 2780 (atmaclassique.com/En/Albums/AlbumInfo.aspx?AlbumID=1620)

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The following review is an excerpt from Keyed In (March 2019) which can be read in its entirety here.

Mélisande McNabney’s new release Inspirations (Atma Classique ACD2 2780; atmaclassique.com/en) offers an intriguing twist on expectations of harpsichord repertoire. These works are transcriptions of music originally for lute. As such, they lack the conventional form that keyboard works devised for two hands would ordinarily display. Instead, these reveal a kind of hybrid piece, principally adapted for keyboard but still revealing much of the lute’s character in the way brief solo thematic ideas alternate with great strum-like keyboard arpeggios. Even the lutenist’s finger plucking is recreated as clustered staccato patterns by the harpsichordist. It takes some careful listening but the ear begins to hear what the music might have sounded like as a lute piece. It sounds terribly difficult at times with endless cascades of keyboard notes that would have been easier on the lute. Still, 17th-century demands for repertoire for the popular emerging keyboard instrument made transcription a necessary composer’s skill. McNabney herself transcribed two works by Rameau, Tendre amour and Air de la Folie. On this recording, she performs on a 1981 instrument built by Keith Hill after an original by the builder Blanchet.

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Author: Alex Baran
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