A harpsichord from the workshop of João Baptista Antunes, 1789, Lisbon, with two 8' registers and with an exceptional range of five octaves and a third (FF-a3). Buff stop on the shorter strings.
When this instrument came to my workshop, it was in a reasonable state of conservation, though not in a playable condition. It underwent a full restoration to a playable state. As some of the original jacks were missing and many of the remaining ones could not be repaired, a full set of new jacks was made, copying the originals as closely as possible. The voicing was done with seagull feathers. The original stand was missing, the present one is a copy of the stand of the 1785 Joaquim Jozé Antunes (a brother of João Baptista), formerly in the Finchcocks collection.
The level of craftsmanship apparent in this instrument is somewhat unsophisticated. However, the action is very effective and the soundboard (composed of slab-sawn planks in a typically-Portuguese manner) produces a sound of exceptional quality, all of which makes this a harpsichord that is inspiring to play and a delight to listen to.
The instrument is part of the collection of the Museu Nacional da Música in Lisbon (inventory number MNM 0373).
Sound sample: Johann Sebastian Bach – Preludium, BWV 998 – private recording (by kind permission of the Museu Nacional de Música)
Pianoforte by Muzio Clementi, London, around 1810.
After being restored in the 1990s by Klinkhamer of Amsterdam, this pianoforte had been left unused and without maintenance for almost two decades. In 2014, when it was decided to begin using it again for concerts and recordings, work was begun to refurbish the instrument. This consisted of raising the pitch to 430 (while paying special attention to the stability of the case), a full revision of the keyboard, keyboard action and pedal action, as well as voicing (which was done in collaboration with my colleague Paulo Pimentel).
The instrument sits in the music room of the Palácio de Queluz, an 18th century palace near Lisbon
Clavichord by Johann Paul Kraemer and Sons, Göttingen, 1803 (nº 571). This instrument has two 8' strings (no 4') and the typical range of FF-a3 for the later clavichords of this workshop.
The instrument had always been kept in a playable state, but the stringing and set-up did not reveal its musical possibilities to best effect. The restoration consisted of:
- General cleaning
- Removal of the non-original green paintwork on the outside of the case
- Stabilisation of the cracks in the belly rail
- Re-gluing of the bass hitch pin block to the left case wall
- Installation of a new keyboard flap
- Replacement of the non-original lid (presumably made in the 1950s) by a new lid, made after two original Kraemer lids
- New set-up
- Addition of a music stand
The result is a clavichord with a beautiful free-sounding treble and an impressively powerful bass.
Click here to see a video of an interpretation of J.S. Bach's Chromatische Fantasie und Fuge, BWV 903 played on this wonderful instrument.
Praceta Dom João I, loja 57A, 2785-379 Caparide, Portugal