French Harpsichord


Here you have a French harpsichord built by Titus Crijnen in 1999 and based on the 1730 N. & F. Blanchet. The lid, soundboard and case painting are by Cor Verboom. The interior painting is a copy of the original. The lid painting is a copy of an extant harpsichord lid painted by Pierre-Antoine Patel (A24 of the Annotated List). 2×8′, 1×4′, FF-f3, double transposing (390/415/440). A buff stop was added in order to facilitate the performance of French harpsichord literature from the 1760s. The instrument is quilled in bird quill (a mixture of seagull and vulture). It is strung according to the schedule published by Michel Corrette in chapter 21 of Le Maitre de Clavecin pour l’accompagnement, méthode théorique et pratique, 1753. It is tuned most of the time to Rameau’s modified meantone temperament (published in 1726).

This model of harpsichord was built by the Blanchet firm probably from the late 1720s possibly through to the early 1740s. It is characterized by its unusual length and depth of case. Three instruments from these years are extant, those of 1730 and 1733 and one undated instrument, which currently belongs to Alan Rubin of London (A68). Interestingly the inventory of Francois Couperin’s possessions made after his death in 1733 shows that he owned a “large harpsichord by Blanchet.” We may posit that the adjective “large” suggests that Couperin in his later years owned an instrument of this model.

Discography: The instrument may be heard on the cd “Grace & Gesture (Bach and before)” performed by Ensemble Mirac (Marjolijn van Roon, recorder; Maaike Roelofs, Cello; Malcolm Proud, harpsichord/organ).