|Review by Jan Hanford:|
An adventurous and beautiful recording of the Trio Sonatas for organ transcribed for and performed on two lute-harpsichords. Previously existing in obscurity, the lute-harpsichord has recently made several appearances on recordings as it is embraced by various musicians and the listening public. And what a revelation it is.
The lute-harpsichord, also called "lautenwerck," uses gut strings instead of metal, therefore sounding more like a lute. The instrument is beautiful, with a wide variety in tone ranging from a mandolin-like pluck in the higher registers to resonant harp-like textures in the middle and lower registers. Many times it sounds remarkably like the lute. J.S. Bach himself owned a couple of this remarkable instrument and even wrote specifically for it (some of the lute works are designated specifically for this keyboard instrument). While none of the actual 18th century instruments have survived, historical documentation has provided enough information to recreate them.
Shawn Leopard and John Paul are an extraordinary duo, who perform these works with astonishing dexterity. The recording is fascinating, with the instruments placed left and right in stereo, thereby giving three-dimensional movement to the intricate counterpoint and harmonies. Melodies sometimes move back and forth in stereo without the aid of studio recording tricks; this is a live performance with the sonatas meticulously arranged for the two instruments.
I highly recommend this recording.