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German sample manufacturer realsamples releases a virtual copy of a prestiguous Italian harpsichord from around 1690 as part of the Edition Beurmann.

The instrument is taken from the famous collection of ancient instruments by Professor Andreas E. Beurmann. September 25, 2010 – Karlsruhe, Germany. Some technologies have advanced in recent years, allowing to improve upon what was done before. On the other hand, some instruments such as Stradivari violins remain a frame of reference that's yet untouched. The same goes for some historic harpsichords, spinets and pianos.

italharp1 Totale.jpgThis was one of the reasons why German collector Andreas E. Beurmann, being a passionate harpsichordist himself, started a collection featuring the rarest keyboard instruments in history. Whether you asked for an original famous harpsichord from the Bach era or a sought-after piano from Mozart's favored maker, it's all in there.

To make this sound available to players worldwide, Beurmann and realsamples joined forces to offer a virtual version of selected instruments. The latest addition features an Italian harpsichord built around 1690 by an anonymous maker.

Featuring three sounds - a front and a rear 8' stop as well both together – this particular instrument allows for the typical traditional rich and slick Italian harpsichord tone with additional flexibility by choosing the adequate stopor using the gentle combination of both stops with its inspiring and complex harmonics. For the Italian Harpsichord III-library, all three sounds were captured separately.


Like all harpsichords, the instrument is not touch-sensitive like a piano. However, even if the differences are minuscule, not any given note will sound exactly the same due to resonances of body and strings: Therefore, every key was sampled with 8 variations to provide the slight yet very important timbre changes of the harpsichord, in order to avoid the effect of digital repetition. In addition, the release sounds were recorded with 4 different samples of each note.

"The sounds of the key release were originally regarded as side noise and as such, they were meant to be minimised. However, they contribute to the overall picture of the real instrument and are a vital part to the perception feeling." says Nicolay Ketterer, head of realsamples, who led the recording sessions at the Hasselburg estate, where Professor Beurmann resides.

The instrument itself, built around 1690 (photo: Andreas E. Beurmann)

The result is a sample library with more than 1600 single samples of the instrument. Presets are available for all common sample formats including HAlion®, Kontakt2® and higher, EXS24® and GigaStudio3®.

Recorded in the great sounding rooms of the Hasselburg estate, custom-made WagnerTM U47w® tube microphones were used in conjunction with Crane SongTM Flamingo® preamps and Universal AudioTM 2192® digital converters recorded in 192 khz/24 bits resolution.

Furthermore, the sample library contains essays from Professor Andreas E. Beurmann himself, explaining the background of the instrument.

The Italian Harpsichord III library is available in 44.1/48 khz, 96 khz and 192 khz resolution, starting at 149.95 US $. The sample library can be purchased directly on the realsamples website.

Sound samples and information available here.

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