Terence Charlston’s latest project, part-funded by the Royal College of Music, is an estimable one, choosing music known to, or composed by, the young J.S. Bach and Handel and played on a copy by David Evans of an anonymous harpsichord of 1715 – the ‘Harmonious Thuringian’ of the CD’s title. As Charlston explains in his comprehensive liner notes, the instrument now in the Bachhaus in Eisenach is a rare survival of the type of local harpsichord once common in Thuringia and Saxony and so is an appropriate one on which to record this music. It is surprisingly resonant – the soundboard extends over the wrest-plank – and is very well recorded here.
The music covers a wide and varied range, drawn from MS collections of the time. It includes a fine Prelude and Fugue by Johann Christoph Bach (by which of the composers of that name is not clear, as Charlston points out), pieces by Johann C. F. Fischer, both Krieger brothers (including an extended passacaglia by Johann Philipp), Johann Kuhnau (a Prelude which could have been a model for the C major Prelude in Book I of the WTC but also for the Prelude to Handel’s E major Suite which follows it on the recording), Louis Marchand, Tarquinio Merula’s fine Capriccio Cromatico , Christian Ritter and Friedrich W. Zachow. The recording ends with a shimmering and convincing performance of the Handel E major Suite. Charlston handles all this with confidence and style, giving the music time to breathe while keeping forward momentum. The association of a particular instrument with music appropriate to it gives this recording a real sense of purpose which is communicated in the playing. I enjoyed it very much.