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Padre Antonio SOLER (1729-1793)
10 Piano Sonatas
Sonata SR 115 in D minor [3:54]
Sonata SR 118 in A minor [3:59]
Sonata SR 19 in C minor [4:38]
Sonata SR 77 in F sharp minor [9:18]
Sonata SR 73 in D major [6:22]
Sonata SR 71 in A minor [4:27]
Sonata SR 72 in F minor [5:14]
Sonata SR 20 in C sharp minor [10:26]
Sonata SR 17 in E flat major [8:44]
Sonata SR 87 in G minor [4:16]
Marie-Luise Hinrichs (piano)
rec. Studio Karlsruhe (SWR), Sendesaal, 4-5 July 2006.
CPO 777 200-2 [61:45]
Experience Classicsonline

Antonio Soler is one of the most important composers of the Spanish Baroque.  A pupil of Domenico Scarlatti, Soler took orders, but whether out of devotion to God, to music or to both is unclear. 
What we do know is that he had plenty of opportunities to compose and perform as part of his duties.  As well as the inevitable swathe of sacred music, there is also plenty of secular music.  Many of Soler’s secular pieces were composed for the Infante Don Gabriel de Borbón, who was Soler’s pupil, and these sonatas are among them. 
There is more than a touch of Scarlatti's style to Soler's writing for keyboard, but his idiom is quite distinct.  Characteristic are his moving bass lines, unusual harmonic sense and his ability to morph ornamentation into thematic material in its own right. 
These qualities are amply displayed in this thoughtfully arrayed selection of sonatas.  Minor modes dominate, and while the majority are more contemplative creations, these are juxtaposed with more sprightly pieces – the first two sonatas on the disc are a case in point. 
Each of the sonatas is played beautifully.  The C sharp minor SR 20 is cool and refreshing.  The F sharp minor SR 77 is quirky: from its almost dour opening, it is startlingly modern in its harmonies, the melodic embellishments woven into this piece take on a melodic life of their own.  The last two sonatas are dreamy dances.  The last on, SR87, is a dance interrupted, and is smilingly played.
Marie-Luise Hinrichs deploys delicate voicing and touch throughout.  Purists may object to her overtly pianistic conception of the pieces, including her preference for augmenting her finger legato by pedalling.  Certainly Soler wrote principally for the clavichord (and perhaps in his later years the new fortepiano), but Hinrichs’ pianistic approach seems fully justified by the results.  She is sensitive to phrase and nuance, expressive above all and if anything the longer decay allows the harmonic richness of Soler’s writing to make itself felt.
An attractive disc then, with those attractions enhanced by informative liner notes and intimate recorded sound.
Tim Perry


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