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The Moermans Flemish Double
The earliest Flemish double-manual harpsichords were designed with the keyboards pitched one fourth apart, for use as transposing instruments. They were, in effect, single-manual harpsichords capable of playing at two different pitches. An "expressive" double is a two-manual harpsichord with keyboards aligned, capable of producing contrasting tonal effects. Probably the earliest example of this now-familiar configuration, on which all later northern European instruments were modeled, is a little-known 1642 instrument by Hans Moermans (II), member of a fine family of builders contemporary with the more-renowned Ruckers. There are two known instruments by the Moermans dynasty: a single-manual instrument from 1584 and the 1642 double, presumably by Hans II. We have chosen to replicate the latter instrument in a faithfully-copied limited edition.
With two unisons, a set of octave strings and a shove coupler, the Moermans offers clear, sensuous, contrasting solo registers as well an imposing grand chorus. With the 4' register added the instrument tonally resembles a Renaissance organ with its rich, reedy sound: deep and impressive. This unique tonal design makes it an unusually effective continuo, solo and concerto instrument, ideal for the music of Byrd and Bull, but also suitable for Purcell, Bach, Handel and Scarlatti. With a chromatic range of four-and-three-quarter octaves, from GG-e''', it is pitched at A = 415 Hz, and is transposable to 440 Hz with no loss of compass. Its keyboard is equally generous in its proportions, with a 6 5/8" octave span, like the instruments from the Ruckers workshop.
We provide the Moermans with a magnificent Flemish balustrade stand in traditional oak. With a marbled exterior and appropriate case and lid papers, our Moermans copy represents a visual and aural testament to one of the greatest traditions of harpsichord building. A lid painting is optional.[Continued....]