Johann Wilhelm Hässler was a great and famous keyboard virtuoso in the second half of the 18th century. His style forms a bridge between the Baroque and the early Classical era, a period of “Sturm und Drang”, highly virtuosic and extravagant in its expression of feelings and character. Harpsichordist Michele Benuzzi undertook thorough research into this music, some of which was formerly attributed to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, before he prepared the present edition, as well as writing the extremely informative liner notes. Played on a magnificent historic 18th century instrument from the Russell Collection in Edinburgh. New Premiere Recording.
If the Alpha label had done nothing more than return Gustav Leonhardt to the studio, it would still be one of the best contemporary classical record companies. That everything else about its releases – the sound, the liner notes, even the reproductions on the covers – is as good or better than what any other classical company manages is only icing on the cake. Leonhardt has been one of the finest harpsichordists in the world for more than 40 years, and his recordings of the repertoire from Frescobaldi to Bach have been the standards against which all other recordings have been judged. But Leonhardt had made no recordings for most of the last decade, and listeners began to wonder if he ever would again. Now, with his fourth release for Alpha, listeners can finally relax, confident in the knowledge that Leonhardt has indeed returned. This 2005 disc of keyboard music by Byrd finds Leonhardt at the top of his form. As always, his technique is secure, and nothing in Byrd's virtuoso writing is beyond him. And, as always, his musicianship is assured, and nothing in Byrd's sensitive music is beyond him.