Ferradini was born in Naples in 1718 where
he studied. He journeyed to Parma and to Madrid and then in
around 1760 to Prague. Though his works were quite widely
performed there and elsewhere – not least in Germany – he
died a pauper in his adopted city’s Italian hospital.
A number of his operas are extant though frustratingly
libretti only – a few isolated arias survive – and a number
of his works were still being performed many years after his
death, so that his music didn’t simply disappear overnight.
Of these works his Stabat Mater is probably the best remembered
and as Alberto Iesuè reminds us in his sleeve notes an edition
was reprinted in Milan in 1969.
But he is also remembered for instrumental
works and for these harpsichord sonatas in particular, which
are preserved in Dresden and which are conjecturally dated
to c.1760, the time of the composer’s relocation to Prague.
Iesuè is quite right to dissociate them from the grandly virtuosic
works of Domenico Scarlatti with which they have little in
common. They are clearly of the Stile Galante and strongly
resonant of the prevailing orthodoxies in the French and Italian
styles. That said however these – in the main – four movement
sonatas (slow-fast-slow-fast) have plenty of harmonic and
lyrical interest and are imbued with Ferradini’s prevailing
sense of melancholy and it’s this that generates perhaps the
most permanent interest in these expertly wrought and diverting
Silvia Rambaldi writes eloquently on matters
of performance and she puts her words into practice with playing
of assurance and intelligence. The second movement of the
First Sonata for instance is played with considerable vitality,
its tutti/soli sections clearly delineated and with cadenzas
interpolated on the fermatas on the final note of a phrase.
Her exploration of the extensive Larghetto sostenuto
reveals its expressive depth quite clearly. Staccati and repeated
notes are distinguishing features of the third movement of
the second sonata, the finale of which is a vigorous and emphatic
Allegro grazioso. His instinct for plangency and expressive
contour can also be gauged by the richness of the Andantino
amoroso of No.3, a work graced by Rambaldi’s deft articulation
in the minuet and the élan of the finale.
The French style Prelude of No.4 is a preface
to the plays of registers in the Allegro and the plaintive
beauty of the Andante grazioso. Auspicious too is the
feathery lightness of the lute registration in the finale.
The Sixth sonata is the only one to break the four-movement
convention; it sports seven. There’s a stately air to the
opening with fine embellishments, a lovely left hand melody
line and very effective mini cadenzas in the second movement
Allegro. The Tempo giusto has a brief fugal
flourish and there’s a terrifically engaging and long Minuet
with variations followed by a hunt movement. Dance and hunt
themes are used with sure appreciation and a stylistic unity.
Throughout Rambaldi’s editorial decision-making
sounds spot-on and she responds amply to the melancholia as
well as to the vitality inherent in these charming and highly
effective works. Fine sound and comprehensive notes add to