Considering how pianists have been raiding the harpsichord repertoire, it is refreshing to see a harpsichordist turn the tables, as Linda Skernick-Feder did yesterday at the Phillips Collection. True, Stravinsky never said that his "Les Cinq Doigts" should not be played on the harpsichord (which Skernick-Feder did), any more than Bach forbade the use of the piano for his partitas. One or two of the Stravinsky pieces seem to call for a kind of percussive sound most readily available from the piano, but others need an almost orchestral variety of colors which is more suitable for the harpsichord.

The problem for the harpsichord comes when dynamic shadings are needed, and in this case it was handled by shifting from one manual (and one set of stops) to another -- an ingenious solution and one that works very well as long as there is no need for a crescendo.

The program was well-chosen, with eight sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (some of which seemed picked to parallel the eight sections of the Stravinsky) as well as three pieces by Claude Balbastre and Bach's Partita No. 4 in D. The performances were always tasteful, well-styled and technically proficient, and often much more. The variety of flavors was particularly gratifying in the Scarlatti pieces, and the spirit of idealized vocal and dance music animated the Bach very effectively -- notably in the allemande and gigue.