Davitt Moroney performed Bach's 6 French Suites this afternoon on a "flight" of harpsichords in Hertz Hall, Berkeley. They were grand: 3 of them on the stage, each made by John Phillips (Berkeley) in 1995, 1998, and 2010, and based on famous antiques by Ruckers(Antwerp)-Blanchet(Paris)-Taskin(Paris) in the late 17th-18th century, Dumont (Paris) in 1707, and Grabner (Dresden) in 1722, respectively.
Moroney spoke about the relationship between composer, country, musical style, and instrument. He also spoke about the relationship between composer, performer, and maker of instruments and cited his own long friendship with Phillips that started when they were both in graduate school in the department of music decades ago.
Each harpsichord was tuned slightly differently, resulting in three "well-tempered" tunings conducive to a pair of suites.
The suites were nearly orchestral at times. A lute accompanied a melody that sounded like an oboe. A chamber group played minuets and trios. A full baroque orchestra played a fanfare. I am partial to Sarabandes, and the one in the 3rd b-minor Suite was especially transportive. Moroney's scholarship and musicianship contributed greatly - the ornamentation in the 6th E-major Suite was especially rich, verging on the Italian style, as Moroney mentioned before he performed it.
There was depth to time while I sat and listened and focussed on these works. It was an experience to remember and savor.