And so the morning starts with a bad pun and wonderful music, Johann Sebastian’s Sonatas for Violin and Obbligato Harpsichord with the odd Viola da Gamba thrown in for good measure. In case you didn’t know, harpsichords were those plinkety things people bought when they couldn’t afford a proper piano. I found this 2 CD album with Rachel Podger on violin and Trevor Pinnock on the harpsy at the back of the shelf, which means it hasn’t had an airing in a while. Shame, because it’s as pleasant as it’s well played. I’m not likely to be listening to the entire 139 minutes and 23 seconds, but I’m good for the first 5 sonatas. Join me and let me know whether it’s your thing or not. And if it’s not, send me your selection for the mornings.
As to the question whether Bach ever actually heard or played on a piano, an instrument that was only invented about 1700, when Bach was 15 years old. News didn’t travel that fast in those days, but Bach had another 50 years of life ahead of him and was from a highly educated, musical family and he was quite famous in his own lifetime, so we would definitely have know about the piano. But don’t take it from me, here is Charles Rosen, the pianist on the subject. It’s a great, if somewhat old article, so I recommend you read it all.
And then when your interest in the instrument is whetted, you can ask Yamaha about its history. And that’s enough for one morning, I’d say.