Minister of Music Kevin Jones presents a harpsichord recital to celebrate Bach’s Birthday. This year, Jones offers the Partita in B-flat, BWV 825. Since 2014, Concerts at First Church has celebrated Bach’s birthday month in March. Over the years, the series has presented the Two-part and Three-part Inventions, various Preludes and Fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier, French and English suites, and Partitas. Lunch will be available in the Parish Hall following the concert.
The Ben Bechtel harpsichord is the culmination of building skills within two separate time frames. First, while it is not a “copy” of a particular historical instrument, it does follow many design features of a harpsichord built by Pascal Taskin in 1769, which now resides in the Raymond Russell Collection of instruments at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Taskin was the last of the great Parisian builders, having taken over the workshops of the other most notable builder of the period, Francois Blanchet. Together, these two family workshops pushed the development of the instrument to its limits prior to its giving way to the emerging superiority of the piano-forte. Several departures from the original design have been taken to improve its ease of maintenance and overall tonal brilliance. For example, part of the framework supporting the soundboard was altered slightly to enhance the resonance of the upper register of the instrument.
This harpsichord is a double manual French design with two 8′ stops, (with buff stops for each) and 4′ stop. The use of buff stops for both 8′ choirs simultaneously produces a tonal character very similar to yet another species of 18th C. harpsichord – a gut strung instrument called a Lautenwerk. Bach owned such an instrument. Thus, this instrument represents the culmination of building skills for the builder, Ben Bechtel (1936–2008), as well and is the final work produced.