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Sophie Yates (Harpsichord)

Born: England

The English harpsichordist, Sophie Yates, studied harpsichord at the Royal College of Music in London. Her career was launched when she won the International Erwin Bodky Competition at the Boston Early Music Festival. Invited to tour the eastern USA, Yates subsequently received offers from other parts of the world. With her home base in London, she now regularly tours Europe, the USA and Japan, and has also worked in Syria, Morocco and Western Australia.

One of the world's preeminent harpsichordists, Sophie Yates is known for her critically acclaimed performances of Baroque music. Universally praised for her profound understanding of Baroque style, Yates is also admired for her refined touch and discreet virtuosity. Indeed, critics have often lauded Yates for subordinating her enormous virtuosity to stylistic and aesthetic concerns. As a specialist in French Baroque music, Yates masterfully captures the elusive style of French Baroque keyboard performance, perfectly conjuring up the enigmatic atmosphere of distant intimacy heard in pieces by François Couperin and Rameau. Commenting on her album French Baroque Harpsichord, critic Robert Haskins admired Yates' subtle renditions of F. Couperin's music. "In her readings of Les Idées heureuses, she savors the melodic quality of the ornamentation and the stately but fluid rhythms to marvelous effect." From the vantage point of the French Baroque, Yates has also explored Italian, German, and Iberian Peninsula repertoires, bringing to light many forgotten harpsichord pieces. Her exploration of Spanish and Portuguese music has been particularly successful, yielding the album Spanish and Portuguese Harpsichord, in which, as Haskins observed, she "combines her ability to project a profound inner intensity with scintillant technique."

A teacher at the Royal College of Music, Sophie Yates is also a virginals specialist, searching for old instruments and exploring the repertoire. she has performed on most of the playable virginals surviving in Britain and is working on a long-term project to collect a book of contemporary English pieces for this instrument.

Her highly praised albums, released by Chandos, include “Rameau: Pièces de clavecin”, “Romanesca: Italian Music for the Harpsichord”, and “Fandango: Scarlatti in Iberia”. In 1999, Sophie Yates released her first album devoted to George Frideric Handel's harpsichord music. In the liner notes for her second G.F. Handel album, Yates remarked that G.F. Handel's harpsichord pieces not only exhibit such typicially Handelian features as rhythmic vitality and melodic inventiveness, but also "give us a fascinating insight into the composer's more private world."

More Photos

Source: Sophie Yates Website; All Music Guide (Author: Zoran Minderovic)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (September 2010)

Sophie Yates: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Margaret Pride

Harpsichord, Organ


Links to other Sites

Sophie Yates - Harpsichordist (Official Website)

Sophie Yates (

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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 07:29