The Historical Harpsichord, Vol. 4: Harpsichord Decoration and the Yale Taskin
Volume IV of The Historical Harpsichord contains two monographs of major importance, “Harpsichord Decoration: A Conspectus” by Sheridan Germann and “A Fable Deconstructed: The 1770 Taskin at Yale” by Richard Rephann. Sheridan Germann, an acclaimed scholar and practitioner in the field of harpsichord decoration, offers the first comprehensive illustrated conspectus of thesubject. In Part I, Ms. Germann tells us that the styles of the decoration of harpsichords (and spinets, virginals, and clavichords) tended to follow contemporary furniture fashions but usually lagged conservatively behind the prevailing fashions. Because, unlike most furniture the instruments are often dated, they provide rare documentation of how long these styles remained in common use. This survey follows chronologically the five major regional traditions of keyboard instrument decoration – Italian, Flemish, French, German, and English – but with emphasis on the international changes in taste on which each region produced its own variations. In Part II Richard Rephann of the Yale Musical Instrument Collection describes his research into the uniquely experimental construction of the 1770 Pascal Taskin harpsichord. This essay forms a pendant to William Dowd’s in Vol. I that treats the surviving instruments of the Blanchet-Taskin workshop up to 1770. The romantic provenance of the 1770 Taskin, concocted by the antique trade to enhance the instrument’s market value, is revealed as a fable.