CLAVICHORDS

VAN HEMESSEN, c. 1528-9
(based on a painting now in the Worcester Art Museum, Mass. USA)

EFGA ga; triple and quadruple fretted; double strung; c scaling approx. 147mm; case and lid of maple; keylevers of lime with boxwood naturals and bog oak accidentals; carved boxwood arcades.
Dimensions: 782 x 201/300 x 84.
This is strictly a connoisseur's instrument, and represents the earliest stage of the developed clavichord. The painting by Jan Van Hemessen (believed to be of Margaret of Parma, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V) is so detailed that the instrument is no doubt an extremely accurate representation and can be reconstructed with much certainty. Most early keyboard instruments of this period only went as low as F in the bass and, like this example, lacked F# and G#, as well as g# in the treble. Presumably the original maker intended the E to be tuned to any alternate bass note as desired. The strings are almost parallel to the spine of the instrument, and the soundboard runs below the keys, resulting in a high viol type bridge. The keyboard projects from the front of the instrument. The case is of sycamore, with dovetailed corners, a feature found in the earliest surviving Neapolitan and Flemish keyboard instruments. The short c scaling suggests the instrument was designed to be tuned to octave pitch.

ANONYMOUS, c. 1700 (Russell Collection, Edinburgh)
C/E c, bass short octave; triple fretted; double strung; c scaling approx. 259mm; case of walnut or oak; poplar or lime keylevers with naturals of boxwood and hardwood accidentals; embossed paper arcades; pine lid.
Dimensions: 1066 x 311 x 90.
The triple fretted clavichord in the Russell Collection is one of the finest designed and most successful early instruments. Despite its small size, it produces a full sound and can be used for much earlier music where the triple fretting presents few problems. As is common with short octave instruments, it was designed for meantone tuning. The reproduction follows a very detailed examination of the original, and includes twisted wire for the lowest three notes of the short octave to improve their sound following the current setup of the original instrument. The instrument is very portable.

own design, based on ANONYMOUS, c. 1700 (Russell Collection, Edinburgh)
C e, chromatic; double fretted; double strung; c scaling approx. 260mm; case of walnut or oak; lime keylevers with boxwood naturals and hardwood accidentals; boxwood arcades; pine lid.
Dimensions: 1120 x 355 x 90.
The double fretted clavichord developed at the start of the eighteenth century and was popular throughout the century, even after the advent of unfretted clavichords due to their portable nature, the comparative ease of tuning, and their excellent actions. This instrument is very similar to, and based on, the successful triple fretted clavichord above, being built on very similar lines. The double fretting (where C and C#, Eb and E, F and F#, G and G#, and Bb and B are fretted in the treble, with all the A's and D's unfretted) allows almost all of the eighteenth century music to be played, and the instrument is tuned in a well-tempered tuning, rather than meantone.
C. G. HUBERT, 1784 (Russell Collection, Edinburgh)
C f, chromatic; double fretted; double strung; c scaling approx. 255mm; case and lid of cherry, oak or veneered pine; lime keylevers with ebony naturals and bone topped accidentals; pearwood arcades; interior lined with coloured paper.
Dimensions: 1285 x 330 x 100
The Hubert clavichord is probably the apex of classical design, and is a very popular model for modern makers and players. This instrument combines an excellent sound with a superbly comfortable action in a still portable instrument. Ideal for all eighteenth century repertoire, this instrument really comes into its own with the writing of true clavichord composers and keyboard composers of the early classical period. Much of the tonal success comes from the large soundboard area, covered strings in the bass, and Hubert's distinctive soundboard barring all of which are followed faithfully in the copy. The copy also follows the original in all other respects, including the finishing touches such as a tangent rail, the panelled lid and all of the brass hinges and locks. The tuning is well tempered, allowing the musician to play in all keys. A slightly enlarged version, based on a 1787 Hubert in Halle with an A f compass is also possible.
C. G. FRIEDERICI, 1765 (Grassi Museum, Leipzig)
F f, chromatic; unfretted; double strung; c scaling approx. 272mm; case and lid of oak; parchment rose in soundboard; lime keylevers with ebony naturals and bone topped accidentals; ebony arcades; interior veneered in sycamore.
Dimensions: 1725 x 491 x 155
The Friederici represents a fully developed five-octave clavichord of the type used by C P E Bach, Mozart and their contemporaries. It has a full rich sound with a superb bass register, and a lively treble. The bridge is "walking stick" shaped, having the tenor and bass on a straight section, which is no doubt responsible for much of the quality in the lower registers. The bass also makes use of covered strings. The large size of the instrument shows that its maker intended it as a clavichord without compromise, and indeed the resulting instrument is everything that is expected from a clavichord. Unusual in a large instrument, the action is very well balanced, giving the player full control. The oak casework, with dovetailed corners (as on all of the listed clavichords) is both restrained and classic.
J. C. G. SCHIEDMAYER, 1796 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA)
F g, chromatic; unfretted; double strung; c scaling approx. 262mm; case and lid of oak; lime keylevers with ebony naturals and bone topped accidentals, black stained keyfronts.
Dimensions: 1534 x 479 x 135
The Schiedmayer clavichord has a full 63 note compass going to the g, which is ideal for music of the late part of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, useful for much music of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, as well as the earlier specialist clavichord composers such as C P E Bach. Despite its large compass it is a relatively compact instrument and produces a very sweet sound, with - thanks to the covered strings - a good bass sound which doesn't overpower the treble. It has an oak case with a panelled lid. The case has dovetailed corners which, along with the hand-fabricated brass hinges, form the only decorative highlights in a traditional understated case.
H. A. HASS, 1740 (Private Collection, Denmark)
C-d, chromatic; double fretted; double strung with extra 4' strings from C - d; c scaling approx. 285mm; case and lid of painted pine; lime keylevers with bone naturals and ebony topped accidentals; punched paper arcades; keywell veneered in olivewood.
Dimensions: 1534 x 434 x 140.
J. C. GERLACH, 1756 (Ringve Museum, Trondheim, Norway)
F f, chromatic; unfretted; double strung with extra 4' strings from F - d; c scaling approx. 285mm; case and lid of painted pine; lime keylevers with bone naturals and ebony topped accidentals; ebony arcades; keywell veneered in olivewood.
Dimensions: 1699 x 523 x 161.
The instruments from Hamburg are distinctive in style and most recognisable by the 4' strings in the bass, giving a little more definition to that part of the compass. The two instruments offered have been chosen following detailed personal research, and in consultation with Dr Lance Whitehead, the authority on Hamburg clavichords. The double fretted 1740 instrument shows some backward looking features, including an obvious use of meantone tuning, and was possibly intended for organists. The Gerlach instrument is almost identical to late H A Hass clavichords, and Gerlach was probably a pupil of Hass. The published museum drawing of this instrument was made by Darryl Martin. Both original instruments show excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail, particularly with the wave-form carving on the accidental keylevers.