Tempo

Although the period-instrument movement is commissioning new works, it is still only in isolated cases that new compositions are produced for the baroque instrument. British composer Graham Lynch (b.1957) has a fascinatingly rich harpsichord repertory, and a couple of years ago it grew by two harpsichord suites commissioned by Assi Karttunen. Now Karttunen has linked the two new suites together with François Couperin’s compositions. Unlike other recordings presenting new compositions this CD is not a compilation, but instead a carefully crafted and in-depth journey into two harpsichord composers’ musical thinking. The gap between three centuries seems to disappear.

The CD provides thoughts considering music’s temporality and continuity, the everlasting reiteration. The suite Beyond the River God by Lynch carries within it streams of rococo as well as neoclassicism, but the continuous movement softens the reference to a certain time period. The composers on the CD are give equal prominence and share this philosophical link to life. Karttunen wants to ask if the music isn’t always like this – it doesn’t come out of nowhere, but all music takes part of the same constant flowing.

Lynch is openly inspired by the French eighteen-century, but similarly enchanted by the Japanese art and flamenco. He is a dreamer, with a very independent, ornamental and liquidly poetical musical language. It gives a timeless impression. Lynch really can write for a harpsichord taking into consideration the possibilities of the wide-ranging touches, and he is able to bring out the flaming palette of colours. Of Couperin’s works Karttunen has chosen largish works with enigmatic atmosphere, like Les Gondoles de Delos , whose carefree theme swells into a broad structure.

Karttunen lets her interpretations breathe in an elegant manner, and the early and new music undulate against each other. An intuitive pacing, and the variation of the improvisatory, repetitive themes, that are in turns mischievous, and sometimes sentimental including versatile ways of touching the instrument, create a flyaway, mysterious and floating world, that sinks into meditativeness and rises into eruptions packed with tango rhythms.

The airy touch of the instrument built by Henk van Schevikhoven is sparklingly precise and registered with a singing tone.

—Auli Särkiö