[f_minor] John Sankey's MIDI treasury of Byrd's compositions

Brad Lehman bpl at umich.edu
Thu Aug 19 07:44:32 EDT 2010

I listened to "Go from my Window" there, and got the impression that 
Sankey wasn't actually playing it on a keyboard, but rather creating the 
MIDI files from score in a different way: mechanically.  (Same remarks, 
vis-a-vis his Scarlatti....)  It seems metrically stiff, and I didn't 
get any sense of "play", or any of the expressive irregularities that 
would come from using period fingerings, or the physical gestures of 
playing the instrument.

This is music that I play myself, for personal pleasure and occasionally 
for harpsichord concerts, and I don't expect to return to this Sankey 
set much (if at all) as a listener.  I'd expect a real recording to 
offer me some musical insights and pleasures that I wouldn't get merely 
looking at a score, and this isn't doing it for me.

To hear Byrd's music played well on real harpsichords, start with "My 
Ladye Nevells Booke" played by Elizabeth Farr on Naxos:
There are many other fine recordings, as well.

Brad Lehman

On 8/19/2010 12:54 AM, Robert Merkin wrote:
> An enormous free treasury of MIDIs of William Byrd's (1543 - 1623)
> keyboard compositions, most or all by John Sankey, can be found at
> http://www.kunstderfuge.com/byrd.htm
> The MIDIs appear to simulate the virginal, although in Byrd's day,
> virginal was used as a general term and could mean the harpsichord. If
> anyone dives into this site for the huge pleasure there, I'd be grateful
> for any insights into the specific kinds of sounds Mr. Sankey, who
> styles himself "Harpsichordist to the Internet," has shaped in these
> MIDIs. Sankey's bio says he was an Associate at the Royal Conservatory
> of Toronto when he was 16.
> Bob

More information about the f_minor mailing list