CD Recordings on Antique Harpsichords by

David Leigh

(harpsichordist & fortepianist)


Acanthus CD Recordings
Musicaphon CD Recording
David Leigh
David Leigh was born and educated in London and read Music in Reading. He studied piano with Norma Crawford, and whilst still at school, studied the organ with Nicholas Danby at the Guildhall School of Music. He later went on to study the harpsichord with Michael Freyhan, Michael Thomas and Virginia Pleasants in England, as well as with Igor Kipnis in the U. S. A.
He made his London debut at the Wigmore Hall in December 1981, and since then has given many recitals in England (including two very successful appearances at the Bath International Festival), Canada, Holland, Belgium and Austria. He has undertaken several tours of the U. S. A., giving harpsichord and fortepiano recitals, broadcasts, lectures and master classes. He has also broadcast in Canada, as is well known to listeners of Radio Oxford.
Apart from his work as a recitalist, he is renowned for his restoration work on antique keyboard instruments. Many of the instruments that he has restored are to be found not only in the U. K., but also in the U. S. A., Canada, Japan, Australia and several countries on the Continent, and can be heard in recitals, broadcasts and on recordings.
Recordings: Musicaphon, LME, Acanthus.
"..big scale performance of Bach's Partita No 4 in D major, according it its rightful stature..."

Daily Telegraph, London

"...musical master of mood and phrasing... exquisite puctuation... musical artist of exceptional distinction and polish..."

Westport News, Conn. U.S.A.

"... must be one of the finest players of his generation... some of the most thrilling Scarlatti playing I have ever heard... Bach's Partita No 4 in D, the truest test for any harpsichordist virtuoso, Mr Leigh's performance left us in no doubt as to his right to that definition..."

Oxford Times

"... remarkably gifted musician... delightful musical experience...played with imagination, good phrasing and pleasing variety of registration. Most of all, it was done with good taste (bon gout), this supreme, yet elusive quality required by Couperin... virtuosity was displayed in the very Spanish Soler Sonatas... David Leigh demonstrated... that he is well aware of the stylistic demands of 18th century performance practices. Yet the freedom of his renditions seems to stem more directly from the musical context of each piece...than from any pedantic adherence to certain musicalogical trends..."

Denise Restout (Landowska Center), Lakeville Journal, Conn. U.S.A.

"... such immaculate, finely schooled and musicianly playing... astounded the listener with dexterity allied to a profound sense of scholarship... sheer delight... an outstanding artist..."

Oxford Mail

"... a brilliant and musical player... some of the best harpsichord playing that I have ever heard..."

Michael Thomas, harpsichordist

"...remarkably fluent fingers..."

The Times, London

"... a joy to hear... a supreme musician... master of his dexterity and depth of feeling..."


"immensely gifted performer... with superior technique... an ability that indeed is rare... performances have excitement, style and taste... a talent that must be heard..."

Igor Kipnis, harpsichordist

"... the effect was that of dipping grime-encrusted gems into jeweller's cleaner, thus revealing hidden facets... surging singing style... Bach's French Suite No 5...was magnificently wrought..."

San Antonio Light, Texas, U.S.A.

"... David Leigh soon displays his pronounced virtuoso temperament. Above all, he shines in his interpretation of the two Bach works, which are both carefully thought out and full of emotional depth..."

Fono Forum, Germany

"... the playing of a fine harpsischordist... the music is wonderful and brilliantly played..."

Manfred Harras, Acanthus International Records, Switzerland


The Recordings

New CD Recordings

Harpsichords: Historic, Rare and Unique (Acanthus International Records)

In association with Acanthus International Records of Switzerland, the following series of CDs has been recorded by David Leigh using only original, antique harpsichords, under the title Harpsichords: Historic and Unique. The superlative quality of these original instruments gives these CDs a matchless tonal beauty, rarely heard before.
Vol. 1

Farewell Delighte: Fortune My Foe

This CD was recorded in 1999 to commemorate the execution of King Charles I in January 1649. The repertoire includes works by Byrde & Tomkins with which the king would have been familiar and also some which are historically associated with him. The Ruckers harpsichord used on this recording is similar to one which King Charles is reputed to have owned.
Harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers, Antwerp, 1623
"The recording has an intimate 18th century drawing room feel."


"A vigorous performance of Tomkins' Ground...excellent passage-work...should be in every collector's library."

Harpsichord and Fortepiano


William Byrde (1542-1623)

  • Pavana Lachrimae
  • Farewell Delighte: Fortune My Foe
  • Rowland
  • As I Went to Walsingham
  • Wolsey's Wild
  • The Earl of Salisbury
    • Pavan
    • First Galliard
    • Second Galliard
  • Fantasia
  • The Carman's Whistle
  • The Bells

Thomas Tomkins (1573-1656)

  • Earl Strafford
    • Pavan
    • Galliard
  • A Sad Pavan For These Distracted Times
  • Ground
  • Barafostus' Dream
Duration: 72'42" Price: £12.99 plus packaging & postage
Vol: 2

Tenducci's Harpsichord

This CD was recorded on the unique English harpsichord by Americus Backers, 1766. Backers, thought to have been a student of Gottfried Silbermann, designed and built the first successful English grand panofortes. His design concepts were rapidly adopted by Broadwood, Erard and others. Only two instruments by Backers exist, the 1766 harpsichord and the earliest surviving English grand pianoforte (1772). The harpsichord was made for the famous castrato, Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci, an intimate friend of John Christian Bach who would have played the instrument. Tenducci published a set of sonatas for the harpsichord or pianoforte not heard since the 18th century. One of them has been included on the CD.
Included free with the CD is a profusely illustrated CD-ROM which describes Backers' importance to the development of the early grand pianoforte by tracing its history from the beginning and depicting some of the colourful characters involved. The CD-ROM also includes a biography of Tenducci and details the extensive restoration of the 1766 Backers harpsichord. The Adobe Acrobat Reader programme needed to read the CD-ROM is included on the disk. 112 pages and 87 pictures. Click here for sample page.
Harpsichord by Americus Backers, London, 1766
" well balanced... in its clear outlines and firmness... the poetic side of the music is also clearly honoured with all these subtle rubatos and accents. This, combined with the really beautiful sound of the harpsichord, makes this CD very special indeed... remarkable playing..." The CD-ROM "...cannot be called modest, it has become a major project...wonderful photos... the report of the restoration gives clear evidence of... careful and... intelligent manner of working..."

Gerard Verloop, Netherlands


Johann Sebastian Bach (1865-1750)

  • Partita no 5 in G BWV 829
    • Praeambulum
    • Allemande
    • Corrente
    • Sarabande
    • Tempo di Minuetta
    • Passepied
    • Gigue
John Christian Bach (1735-1782)
  • Sonata no 6. in C minor, op. 5 no. 6
    • Grave
    • Allegro Moderato
    • Allegretto
Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci (1735-1790)
  • Sonata no. 3 in F
    • Larghetto con Moto
    • Allegro
    • Minuet & Variation
John Christian Bach (1735-1782)
  • Sonata no. 4 in E Flat, op. 5 no. 4
    • Allegro
    • Rondeaux
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
  • Italian Concerto, BWV 971
    • (Moderato)
    • Andante
    • Presto
Duration: 76'56"
Price: £12.99 plus packaging & postage
Vol. 3

The Great English Harpsichord

The harpsichord used on this recording represents the last flowering and culmination of the harpsichord maker's art. Only a dozen of these special instruments by Burkat Shudi now survive and were the largest and most elaborate harpsichords produced in England as well as being the largest commercially produced harpsichords made anywhere in Europe. Nearly 9 ft long and with a 5½ octave compass of CC-f''', these remarkable instruments were provided with the lastest mechanical devices (the machine stop and the Venetian swell) to help them compete with the emerging early piano. These devices are used in the performance on this CD of the Sonata by J. C. Bach. When in London, the young Mozart played the first of the three such instruments ordered by King Frederick the Great of Prussia. The Empress Maria Theresa of Austria also ordered one as did the composer, Joseph Haydn. All of these harpsichords still survive. Handel was a close friend of Shudi and is thought to have owned one.
Harpsichord by Burkat Shudi & Johannes Broadwood, London, 1773

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

  • Suite Septième in G minor
    • Ouverture
    • Andante
    • Allegro
    • Sarabande
    • Gigue
    • Passacaille
Joseph Kelway (1702-1782)
  • Sonata no. 2 in G minor
    • Allegro
    • Largo
    • Allegro moderato
John Christian Bach (1735-1782)
  • Sonata in B Flat, op. 17 no. 6
    • Allegro
    • Andante
    • Prestissimo
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
  • Chaconne in G
Duration: 76'44" Price: £12.99 plus packaging & postage
"This is a big, rich, sumptuous sound and this recording is all the more welcome since there are relatively few CDs of this type of instrument.... the sound quality of this disc is also excellent: it is likely very close to the actual sound of this marvelous instrument... The two Handel works... are bold, exciting pieces and sound quite splendid on this instrument. J. C. Bach's Sonata op. 17, no. 6... features the use of the Venetian swell... (a rarely heard effect, to be sure). The piece by Joseph Kelway... is likely recorded for the first time - more please!... Our artist, David Leigh, is something of a Renaissance man, being a skilled performer, a restorer of old keyboard instrument, and a competent writer as the CD's liner notes attest.... this is a fine performer (and fine instrument) and deserves to be heard!"

Peter Yingling

The San Diego Harpsichord Society Newsletter

New Recordings
Vol. 4

The Harpsichord in Germany

The double manual harpsichord used for this recording was made by Andreas Ruckers of Antwerp in 1623. It was ravalé by Jacob Kirckman in England around 1770. In the 19th century it was owned by John Hullah, a friend of Charles Dickens. It still retains many of the strings dating from its 18th century ravalement. This instrument was also featured on the CD Farewell Delighte: Fortune My Foe, the first volume of Harpsichords: Historic, Rare and Unique.

All the composers of the works on this CD had some connection with J. S. Bach. Bach walked across Germany on several occasions to hear the aged Reincken play the organ in Hamburg. When Bach improvised on a chorale tune for Reincken, he received high praise. Telemann and Bach would have met when both were at Eisenach. Goldberg was Bach's most famous pupil who has given his name to Bach's famous Aria with Thirty Variations, the so-called Goldberg Variations. Graupner was a friend of Bach and was one of the competitors for the post of St Thomas's, Leipzig. When Graupner was unable to obtain his dismissal from his patron, the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, so that he could accept the position at St Thomas's, he generously recommended his friend Bach for the post. The famous Johann Pachelbel was a friend of Bach's father and taught Bach's elder brother, Johann Christoph Bach, the future teacher of Johan Sebastian. Johann Ernst of Sachsen-Weimar was a member of the Royal House of Saxe-Weimar and was a very talented pupil of Bach.

Harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers, Antwerp, 1623

Jan Adam Reincken (1623 - 1722)

  • Suite in G

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 - 1767) transcribed by J. S. Bach

  • Concerto in G minor
Johann Gottlieb Goldberg (1727 - 1756)
  • Prelude and Fugue in F minor
Johann Christoph Graupner (1683 - 1760)
  • Suite in C
Johann Pachelbel (1653 - 1706)
  • Ciacona in F minor
Johann Ernst von Sachsen-Weimar (1696 - 1715) transcribed by J. S. Bach
  • Concerto in D minor
Duration: 73'03" Price: £12.99 plus packaging and postage
Vol. 5

Scarlatti in England

The double manual harpsichord used for this recording was made by Jacob Kirckman, London, 1768. Apparently made for a Russian client, it spent most of its early history in Russia. It was sent to Paris around the time of the Revolution where it remained in the hands of descendents of the original owners until it was purchased by an English collector and brought to England. Passing into the possession of another English collector, it was exhibited at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in 1983. 18th century England became the natural home for Domenico Scarlatti's keyboard music which remained virtually unknown on the Continent. This Kirckman harpsichord is typical of the sort of instrument on which Scarlatti's sonatas would normally have been played.
Harpsichord by Jacob Kirckman, London, 1768

Domenico Scarlatti (1685 - 1757)

  • 16 Sonatas: K. 1, K. 2, K. 9, K. 13, K. 14, K. 25, K. 27, K. 44, K. 96, K. 105, K. 119, K. 125, K. 127, K. 132, K. 133, K. 140
Duration: 73'03"
Price: £12.99 plus packaging and postage
Cembalomusik im England der Hannoveraner

Harpsichord in Hanoverian England

B 506 801

The magnificent double manual harpsichord used for this recording was made by Jacob and Abraham Kirckman, London, 1772. It is possibly the first harpsichord to be signed by Jacob and his nephew, Abraham. It has the rare 5½ octave compass of FF - c''''. The reason for this extended compass is unknown. The disposition comprises two 8 ft stops, one 4 ft stop, a lute stop, a buff register and a 'machine stop' for rapid changes of registration. Equipped with the typical English ivory keyboards with ebony sharps, the additional treble keys have their colour reversed, with ebony naturals and ivory sharps. Acquired in 1953 by Raymond Russell, it passed on his death to his mother, Mrs Maud Russell. It is now in private ownership in Montreal, Canada.
Harpsichord by Jacob and Abraham Kirckman, London, 1772.

Georg Friedrich Händel (1685 - 1759)

  • Suite no. 5 in E

Johann Christian Bach (1735 - 1782)

  • Suite in C minor, op. 17 no. 2

Pietro Domenico Paradies (1707 - 1791)

  • Sonata no. 6 in A

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)

  • English Suite no. 3 in G minor
Top of page
CD Recordings