New music from Australia and the Americas for one and two harpsichords. For those who love harpsichords and think they should have a life in the present, here is the CD for you. Harpsichordist Michael Tsalka has a world-wide reputation and many of the works are dedicated to him. Recorded courtesy of Western Sydney University at the instigation of composer Diana Blom whose work lends its name to the CD, and published by Australian new works label Wirripang.
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Review by James Nightingale, Fine Music Magazine (4 Stars)
Lady Huang's Album, a duo harpsichord recording from Australian Diana Weston and Dutch/Israeli Michael Tsalka, presents a new side to this venerable instrument. Far from accompanying or hiding in the continuo, the nine works on this new recording display the sound of the harpsichord in rhythmic and atmospheric vibrancy. The works bring to life echoes of the music of the past whilst taking in influences from beyond the horizon of Western art music.
The highlight is the title track (from Sydney composer Diana Blom) which invokes the music of Asia through quotation and mood. It convincingly evokes the music and instruments of China while at the same time being enjoyable and witty. Nine composers are represented on the disc, with five from Australia. The other four, hailing from Italy, Argentina, Mexico and the United States, all seem to be early keyboard specialists and their works reflect their interest in the music of the past. The Variations on a ground by Gabriele Toia, for example, takes a bass part by Vivaldi and provides 13 variations which imitate the keyboard music of Ligeti, Bartok, Chick Corea and more.
Other works provide more literal tone painting: May Howlett's Tilting at Windmills is a picture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and Ann Carr-Boyd's Crimson Rosella provides a picture of this amazing bird through the harpsichord's lively pinging. Lady Huang's Album is a recording which will greatly please those curious to hear what this ancient instrument is capable of when approached by today's composers.