Il Cembalo Transalpino: Music from the Fitzwilliam Collection (CD)

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Sophie Yates

All the music in this programme comes from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and most of it was collected by its founder, Richard, Seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion (1745 – 1816). A polymath, lover of music, amateur composer and harpsichordist, musically active from about 1760 until his death, Fitzwilliam created a legacy of exceptional importance to English musical culture.

The recording features the Boni harpsichord from the Fitzwilliam Collection, was originally made by Giovanni Battista Boni who worked in Cortona in Tuscany. In some ways it is conventional for its time, having a slab sawn cypress soundboard and light cypress case, but its original set-up was a highly unusual one, with three sets of strings at the same (8 foot) pitch. During a previous restoration, by Trevor Beckerleg in 1975, the third register, which had been out of use, was re-instated and this gives the player more resources than does the usual Italian harpsichord: both the front and back rows of jacks pluck the same set of strings but in different places, which gives them a distinctly different timbre, and the various combinations of the three registers provide the player with five distinct sounds to choose from.

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Galeazzo [Sabbatini] (1597-1662):

  1. Prelude (The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book)

Luca Marenzio (1553/1554 – 1599):

  1. Set by Peter Philips (c. 1560 – 1628)
  2. Tirsi morir volea (FVB)
  3. Frenò Tirsi il desio (FVB)
  4. Così morirò (FVB)


  1. Passamezzo Pavan and Galliard (Tisdale’s Virginal Book)

Giulio Cesare Arresti (1619-1701):

  1. Sonata in A major (XVII Sonates da Organo o Cimbalo del Sig. Ziani, Pollaroli, Bassani e altri famosi autori)

Giovanni Paolo Colonna (1637-1695):

  1. Sonata in D minor (XVII Sonates da Organo o Cimbalo…)

Giulio Caccini (1551-1618):

  1. Set by Peter Phillips
  2. Amarilli, mia bella (FVB)

Girolamo Alessandro Frescobaldi (1583-1643):

  1. Toccata Settima (Toccate e partite d’intavolatura. Libro secondo)

Peter Philips (c. 1560-1628):

  1. Passamezzo Pavan and Galliard (FVB)

Alessandro Striggio (? 1536 / 37-1592):

  1. Set by Peter Phillips
  2. Chi farà fede al cielo (FVB)

Carlo Francesco Pollarolo (c. 1653-1723):

  1. Sonata in D minor (XVII Sonates da Organo o Cimbalo…)

Giovanni Picchi (c. 1571-1643):

  1. Toccata (FVB)

Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726):

  1. Canzona in G minor (Sonate d’intavolatura per organo e cimbalo)

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713):

  1. Probably arranged for harpsichord by
  2. Thomas Roseingrave (1690 / 91 – 1766)
  3. Sonata in D minor, Op. 5 No. 7