Italian Harpsichords
Cembalino, Italian Virginal
Flemish and French Harpsichords
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T. Haluščák's Instruments
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For a big two or single manual german-style harpsichord were chosen instruments made after Chr. Zell and M. Mietke. Zhe Zell harpsichord located in Hamburg - where the builder worked - has been preserved in a good condition and therefore it can serve as a good example to copy. As a pupil of Mietke both instruments share many similarities, above all Italian influences. But, the soundboard shows a tendency to a late baroque franco-flemish style of ribbing.

M. Mietke: The original located in the Charlottenburg castle, built after 1700, was unfortunately altered. The original compass FF, GG, AA-c3 with brass strings at a lower pitch (below 400 Hz) was changed to iron, with a compass FF, GG-e3, 415 Hz. The harpsichord shows many italian influences. So called false-inner-outer construction (an inner and an outer case pretending to be separated), case mouldings, nut and bridge shape and inner case framing can serve as an examples. Acoustical characteristics like a large soundboard area between an 8' bridge and a bentside, a bridge shape, an overall volume and a plucking point shows the instrument's polyphonic skills to good advantage. No wonder J. S. Bach has ordered a Mietke harpsichord to Cöthen, and there is a relationship between Mietke instruments and a 5. Brandenburg concerto. The 4' register has a big sound potential in this model. Thanks to a minimal number of soundboard ribs and a layout of vibrating areas comes the register with a surprising sound richness. It can be seen as an another instrument built in, missing bass notes can be played on the upper manual. Choosing a proper string material is a big issue here. Most importantly with a usual 8'+8'+4' disposition. While brass strings with its exeptionally cultivated sound character suffer with small amount of energy given to the strings, together with a very short distance from a 4' hitchpin rail to an 8' bridge, a brass layout should be used for solo or with smaller groups. To make a sound more solid, penetrating, braking through - for orchestra purposes - it is a good idea to string in iron.

A double-bent bentside is a typical feature of the german building style. It brings not only a decent constructinon challenge but most importantly a very stable and elegant shape.

Best quality Alpine soundboard wood is used. Walnut is a good choice for the case, either oiled and waxed or painted. The difference between the two cases can be emphasized using a painted outer case and - for example - a natural cherry inner part. It is possible to use different natural woods for this purpose as well, for instance combining walnut and maple, as shown on the pictures.

Keyboard is made from ebony/bone with inlaid arcades.

The price covers a simple stand, a decent one shown on the pictures (or even more elaborate) is available.

Disposition: 2 x 8' or 2 x 8' + 4', one or two manuals, lute register.

Compass: FF-f3, GG-d3, CC-c3. Double or triple transposition.