Harpsichord Concerto

Jillon Stoppels Dupree, harpsichord; Northwest Chamber Orchestra conducted by Ralf Góthoni

Although it is an instrument that most people still generally identify with the Baroque period, there have probably been more harpsichord concertos composed over the course of the past 80 years than at any other time in history. In fact, I count among my favorite pieces harpsichord concertos by De Falla, Górecki, Maurice Ohana, and Joonas Kokkonen. What all of those composers figured out is that effectively writing for harpsichord is very different than for piano: typical virtuosic bravado is replaced by a more concentrated and subtle figuration, as well as layers of counterpoint which can be much more clearly articulated. The idiosyncrasies of the harpsichord are particularly suited to the modular music of Philip Glass, who now joins the rank of harpsichord concerto composers; in fact, the harpsichord’s subtleties force him to eschew his own occasional inclination to be bombastic. Jillon Stoppels Dupree, who is normally associated with early music, sounds totally at home in Glass’s current idiom which is now clearly post-minimalist. And, of course, having a pianist the stature of Gilmore Award-winner Ralf Góthoni serve as the conductor aids in guaranteeing that this unamplified, comparatively quiet keyboard never gets drowned out.

—FJO