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Giovanni Ferrini was the pupil and successor of the Florentine builder Bartolomeo Cristofori. Like Cristofori he was keeper of the keyboard instruments of the Medici collection as well as a builder of harpsichords and pianos. There also survives a combined piano/harpsichord made by him, now part of Tagliavini's collection.
The original of this Ferrini harpsichord is based on an instrument conserved in Michigan University. It has two 8' stops and a 4½ octave range GG-d''' (the range may be extended to GG-e'''). My version also has the transposing keyboard for playing at 415/440. Its two main merits are the beautiful, powerful and rich sound, and the lightness of its construction; a big advantage for transport. It does not have a separate outer case like the Grimaldi, but an integral construction, sometimes called false inner-outer, as it looks like an inner harpsichord in cypress with an outer case. Although the original instrument is anonymous, its atribution to Ferrini is probable, based on many details that Ferrini inherited from his master, Cristofori. Although not dated, the original is probably from the middle of the 18th century. It is interesting that the string length is shortened by a semitone compared to that of Cristofori (and also Grimaldi), so that the extra strings for playing at 415 have to be added in the bass.
The keys are somewhat lengthened compared to a typical 17th century harpsichord such as the Grimaldi, and the sharps are bevelled lke a modern piano. Some players find that these two features facilitate the playing of difficult 18th century music such as the more complicated Scarlatti sonatas. This is probably the type of instrument that Scarlatti would have used in the later part of his life.
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