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Richard Egarr

Clogg'd in the English Vein
Thursday, January 12, 2017 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
While best known for their sacred and secular vocal music, 17th-century English composers Morley, Byrd, Blow, and Purcell also wrote inventive works for keyboard. Two of their favorite forms were the ground and the suite. There is nothing earthbound about the ground, an English term describing a hypnotic, repeating melody in the bass. Byrd cleverly imitates the tolling of bells, while some of Purcell’s most beautifully ornate music is based on the form. The suite was a collection of dance movements; it offered composers opportunities to explore national styles, particularly those of France and Italy, while reveling in virtuosic flights of fancy.

Part of Salon Encores.


Richard Egarr, Harpsichord


J.P. SWEELINCK Toccata in A, SwWV 296

J.P. SWEELINCK Fantasia chromatica

MORLEY Variations on "Goe from my window"

BYRD Fantasia in A Minor

BYRD Pavan and Galliard in A Minor, No. 3, MB 16a/b

BYRD The Bells

PURCELL Suite in G Major, Z. 660

PURCELL Ground in C Minor, ZD. 221

BLOW Suite No. 1 in D Minor

BLOW Suite No. 2 in D Minor

BLOW Chaconne in Fa-Ut

PURCELL Suite in G Minor, Z. 661

PURCELL "A New Ground" in E Minor, Z. 682

PURCELL Suite in D Major, Z. 667

PURCELL Ground in D Minor, ZD. 222


FROBERGER Lamento sopra la dolorosa perdita della Real Maesta di Ferdinando IV

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

At a Glance

Of the five composers featured on this evening's program, only one—the Dutchman Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck—made his career outside the British Isles. The close cultural and economic ties between England and the Netherlands ensured that Sweelinck (who worked in cosmopolitan Amsterdam) kept abreast of the stylistic innovations of his English contemporaries like William Byrd and Thomas Morley. This relationship helps explain why Sweelinck was only one of three non-English composers whose work was anthologized in the famous Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, a landmark collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean keyboard music.

The music of the so-called English virginalist composers actually was intended for performance on any of several plucked-string keyboard instruments—virginal, spinet, or harpsichord—that were in widespread use in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This rich and enormously varied repertoire is distinguished by its florid embellishments, wide-ranging textures and figurations, and imaginative use of popular songs and dances. In the late 1600s, John Blow and his star pupil, Henry Purcell, adopted many of these same stylistic features and keyboard techniques in their suites and solo pieces for harpsichord. Both composers were influenced as well by the French penchant for smoothly flowing melodies, often built on top of a repeating melodic and harmonic pattern known as a ground bass. 


Richard Egarr

Richard Egarr brings to all his music making a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, inquiring mind--whether conducting, directing from the keyboard, giving recitals, playing chamber music, or even just talking about music at every opportunity. Not only acting as  ...

Richard Egarr brings to all his music making a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, inquiring mind--whether conducting, directing from the keyboard, giving recitals, playing chamber music, or even just talking about music at every opportunity. Not only acting as music director of the Academy of Ancient Music since 2006, he is also associate artist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Egarr has a flourishing career as a guest conductor with orchestras that include the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and also acts as a visiting artist at The Juilliard School.

This season, Mr. Egarr makes his debut with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He also returns to the Seattle Symphony, NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, The Hague Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Boston's renowned Handel and Haydn Society.

Mr. Egarr continues to play solo recitals around the world, with concerts this season at Wigmore Hall, the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, as well as across North America. His extensive discography on Harmonia Mundi includes solo keyboard works by J. S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Couperin, with an album of Bach partitas to be released in February. His long list of recordings with the Academy of Ancient Music includes seven Handel discs (which have received such accolades as Gramophone, MIDEM, and Edison awards), and most recently Bach's St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion on the orchestra's own label. In 2015, he conducted a sold-out performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore at the Edinburgh International Festival--a performance that was recorded live and released on Linn Records in 2016 to enthusiastic reviews.

Mr. Egarr trained as a choirboy at York Minster, as a student at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, and as an organ scholar at Cambridge's Clare College. His studies with preeminent harpsichordists Gustav and Marie Leonhardt further inspired his work in the field of historical performance.

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