The first complete recording of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book on 15 CDs! This remarkable collection of works for the virginal, or small harpsichord, is found in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
It is the largest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean keyboard music, all handwritten and totalling nearly 300 compositions, all of which predate the first keyboard music published in England by about 50 years.
The identity of the copyist of these works is uncertain, although a fascinating riddle. The manuscript is a role call of the leading composers of the era – John Bull, Giles Farnaby, William Byrd, Peter Philips, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Tomkins and a number of unknown composers all feature. Research seems to point to one Francis Tregian from Cornwall, who may have copied the music whilst in Fleet prison from 1608 until his death in 1619. Tregian’s remarkable work – which extends to four volumes and 2000 pieces – ensured the survival of music by many of the most important composers of this era.
Pieter-Jan Belder, one of the world’s most respected and prolific harpsichordists, received rave reviews for his previous issues in this series: “..a captivating portrait..full of rhythmic drive..he displays a keen sense of rhythm...broad and brilliant gestures...one of the most important recording projects of this decade..”(Musicweb-International).
Belder’s discography includes works by Scarlatti (complete sonatas!), Soler, Rameau, Corelli, Bach, Purcell and many others. Currently he is completing the complete harpsichord works by J.S. Bach.