Dubbed “melodious Birde” by his contemporary John Baldwin, Byrd was Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite composer. Not just the virtual founder of “virginalist” keyboard music, Byrd has always been a characteristically English composer, and one of my personal favourites. Three different instruments - all historically appropriate copies - are played on this recording. See the CD page for some initial listeners’ comments.
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Playing my recently restored Celini harpsichord
of 1661. For more on this instrument and the two CDs recorded with it -
both of which have received good reviews in Gramophone -
As both a maker and player of harpsichords, I enjoy the rare privilege of turning a collection of pieces of wood into a finished harpsichord and then playing it in public. While geographically based in the South-West of England (home and workshop are near the beautiful city of Wells), performing has given me the opportunity of travelling far afield and forming friendships with other musicians, many of whom now own my instruments.
‘Your concert was hugely enjoyed and many people told me how astonished they were that you not only played brilliantly but built the exquisite harpsichord you brought with you.’
David Titterington, RAM, Artistic Director of the
St. Albans International Organ Festival,
following the concert which formed part of the 2013 Festival.
Building harpsichords takes time, so my concert work has been limited, compared with full-time performers. In order to reach a wider audience, in 1991 I established the Soundboard record label. There are now a dozen recordings of solo harpsichord music available on Soundboard, including the landmark CD of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
‘For me this recording stands out in a crowded field.’
Noel O’Regan. Early Music Review, August 2011.
I also love teaching, and have developed a deep interest in the expressive capabilities of the harpsichord and its music.
Masterclass teaching during the
2014 Sligo Festival of Baroque Music
Seminars held at the Dartington International Summer School led to “Did Bach Really Mean That?” - a 350-page handbook. Its aim is to encourage keyboard players, whatever their instrument, to go “beyond the dots”: to discover more fully the breadth of meaning which an apparently simple Baroque score may conceal.
‘The book is absolutely first class: very learned yet imaginative and totally approachable. So much to learn from it, and so much to admire. Congratulations. I have already recommended it to several keyboard players.’
Sir Roger Norrington, conductor
© 2013-2017 Colin Booth, harpsichordist and harpsichord maker
Photographs of performing and teaching, courtesy of Joe McHugh,
Studio 5, Renmore, Galway
and Aminah Hughes: www.aminah.com.au
Video clips: my thanks to Dr. Peter Mole