New York Times: Plucking Notes, and Strings, of Long Ago

New York Times | By Phillip Lutz

In 1640, Andreas Ruckers of Antwerp was producing harpsichords of such clarity and consistency that they were the envy of Northern Europe. Most of those harpsichords, like others of their vintage, have disappeared or been radically altered, sometimes with disastrous results.


One that hasn’t, however, sits among the more than two dozen period keyboards on display at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments in New Haven. Apart from the slight extension of its range in the early 18th century, the floridly adorned, single-manual instrument remains fundamentally untouched, its soundboard yielding a brilliant tone that, on a recent weekday, carried throughout the collection’s quarters, a onetime fraternity house on Hillhouse Avenue. MORE

Published March 30, 2015
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Mario Aschauer lectures on equal temperament April 24

mario aschauerOn April 24, 2013 at 4 pm, Mario Aschauer will present a lecture called, “Has Equal Temperament Really Ruined Harmony?” The event takes place in Hendrie Hall, Room 205. Aschauer is a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Music pursuing research for a book on Anton Bruckner’s compositional procedures.

Has equal temperament really ruined harmony, as R. Duffin’s Book of 2007 suggests? And if yes: how? This lecture will provide the theoretical and acoustical basics necessary to understand the fundamental problem of keyboard tuning and the manifold solutions theorists and musicians have come up with throughout the last four centuries of music history. There will also be a chance to listen to a harpsichord piece played in several historical temperaments.

Austrian scholar-performer Mario Aschauer has concertized extensively as a harpsichordist throughout Europe. His dissertation on German Keyboard Treatises in the Second Half of the 18th Century was published by Bärenreiter Verlag, Kassel, in 2011. For recent new editions of Schubert’s Moments Musicaux, Impromptus, and Late Piano Pieces, Mario developed fingerings and provided notes on performance practice. He received his training as a conductor, musicologist, and harpsichordist from conservatories and universities in Linz, Salzburg and Vienna.

This event is presented by the piano department of the Yale School of Music.

Published April 24, 2013
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Jory Vinikour brings historical keyboards to life in Oct. 16 concert

Program features French, German harpsichords

The concert season at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments opens with a performance by harpsichordist Jory Vinikour on Sunday, October 16. Vinikour, born in the U.S. and active across Europe, will perform music by Bach, Handel, Rameau, and others on French and German harpsichords from the eighteenth century. The concert will take place at 3 pm at the Collection of Musical Instruments (15 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven).

Two harpsichords from the Collection will be featured in this recital. Music by French composers will be performed on a harpsichord made in Paris around 1740 by François Etienne Blanchet the Elder. Music by Bach, Scarlatti, and Handel will be performed on a harpsichord made in Hamburg around 1760 by Johann Adolph Hass.

Vinikour will open the program with J.S. Bach’s virtuosic Toccata in D Major, BWV 912, performing on the German harpsichord. He will then play four of Domenico Scarlatti’s compact sonatas: the Sonata in D Major, K. 535; B minor, K 87; D Major, K. 119; and D minor, K. 120. The first half will close with Handel’s Chaconne in G Major, HWV 435, a set of increasingly intricate variations.

The second half of the program turns to France: On the Parisian harpsichord, Vinikour will perform a suite of pieces in F major by Louis Couperin. The concert will conclude with Rameau’s second set of Pièces de Clavecin (harpsichord pieces), written in 1724.

The Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, one of the foremost institutions of its kind, preserves and exhibits musical instruments from antiquity to the present. Many instruments are maintained in playing condition and are featured in performances and demonstrations in the fine acoustic of the upstairs gallery.

Published September 23, 2011
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Faculty appointments for Bruce Neswick ’80MM, Ilya Poletaev ’10DMA

Ilya Poletaev

Ilya Poletaev

Pianist Ilya Poletaev ’10DMA has been appointed as Assistant Professor of Piano at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Poletaev captured first prize at the prestigious XVII International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig and, as the winner, will appear in recital at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. As a solo pianist, he has appeared with the Toronto and Hartford symphony orchestras as well as with Romania’s Filarmonica Mihail Jora di Bacau and Italy’s Orchestra J-Futura. He was the first prize winner of the XX Concorso Sala Gallo Piano Competition in Monza, Italy, where he also received the Audience Prize, the Bach Prize, and the Orchestra Prize. Mr. Poletaev holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and earned his doctorate and master’s degree from Yale, where he also served on the faculty as a lecturer in early music. Mr. Poletaev’s recording of the complete works of George Enescu for violin and piano, with violinist Axel Strauss, will soon be released on the Naxos label.

The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University announced recently that organist Bruce Neswick ’80MM has been appointed to the faculty following a national search. Neswick will be an associate professor of music (organ), beginning this fall. MORE

Published May 10, 2011
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Masaaki Suzuki gives a solo harpsichord recital at the Collection April 26

“Astonishingly beautiful, even glittering, harpsichord playing and sound.”
—BBC Music Magazine

The Yale School of Music presents a solo harpsichord recital by the conductor and keyboardist Masaaki Suzuki on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 5 pm at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments (15 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven).

photo by Marco Borggreve

Since joining the Yale faculty in 2009, Suzuki has won over New Haven audiences with his conducting of Yale Schola Cantorum as well as Bach Collegium Japan, the ensemble he founded over twenty years ago. He also performs regularly on both harpsichord and organ. In this recital, he will play music from France, England, and Germany, with compositions by Louis Couperin (the uncle of the better-known François Couperin), William Byrd, Jakob Froberger, Dietrich Buxtehude, and – Suzuki’s specialty – Johann Sebastian Bach.

The program opens with Couperin’s Suite in A minor and Passacaille in C major, followed by Byrd’s Ninth Pavane and Gaillarde, from My Ladye Nevells Booke. Suzuki will then play Froberger’s Partita No. 12 in C major, “Lamento sopra la dolorosa,” and Buxtehude’s Prelude in G minor. He will close the program with two works by Bach: the Prelude and Fugue in E-flat minor, BWV 853, and the Partita No. 6 in E minor.

The Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, one of the foremost institutions of its kind, preserves and exhibits musical instruments from antiquity to the present. Many instruments are maintained in playing condition and are featured in performances such as this one in the fine acoustic of the upstairs gallery. Masaaki Suzuki will play two of the Collection’s harpsichords: a Flemish instrument made by Andreas Ruckers in Antwerp around 1640, and an “expressive double” made in Paris by François Etienne Blanchet the Elder around 1740 (pictured at right).


Published April 5, 2011
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Boris Berman plays Bach keyboard concertos April 6

Will perform with quartet of YSM faculty and alumni performers

The Horowitz Piano Series at the Yale School of Music presents a recital by pianist Boris Berman and guest artists on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College Street, New Haven). The concert presents four concertos by J.S. Bach for keyboard and strings, performed as chamber music rather than with a full orchestra.

Berman will be joined by violinists Katie Hyun and David Southorn, violist Ettore Causa, and cellist Mihai Marica. Causa is on the faculty of the Yale School of Music and will also perform with Berman in a recital on March 26. Hyun, Southorn, and Marica are graduates of the School who play together in the award-winning Amphion String Quartet.

The music on this concert will include Bach’s Concerto in E Major, BWV 1053; Concerto in F Minor, BWV 1056; Concerto in A Major, BWV 1055; Concerto in G Minor, BWV 1058; and Concerto in D Major, BWV 1054. Most of these are transcriptions by Bach of his own concertos written for other instruments such as violin or winds.


Published March 14, 2011
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