> Luigi Cherubini - Six Keyboard Sonatas [CC]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Luigi CHERUBINI (1760 - 1842)
Six Keyboard Sonatas No. 1 in F; No. 2 in C; No. 3 in B flat; No. 4 in G; No. 5 in D; No. 6 in E flat.

Paule van Parys (harpsichord).
Recorded in June 1991.
PAVANE ADW7233 [70'51]


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These six Sonatas represent some of Cherubini's earliest published compositions (Florence, c1783). The disc therefore offers the opportunity to experience and assess another side of a composer better known for his operas (especially Médée of 1797) and liturgical music (amongst which two Requiem Masses figure highly). Whilst Gluck and Mozart are the dominant influences on Cherubini's vocal output, it is Haydn whose paternal compositional hand can be felt on the young Cherubini's shoulder. All the works are in two movements.

There is much to enjoy in these charming Sonatas, not least a spirited joie de vivre, an appealing wit and an almost all-pervasive charm. Be warned, however: they are perpetually well behaved. All six in one sitting might be too much of a good thing (all together they last for well over an hour).

One should, whatever ones reservations, ultimately be grateful to musicians like Paule van Parys (or, indeed, Lya De Barberiis on a recent Warner Fonit disc) for bringing this music to the record buyers attention. The bright sound of Parys's chosen instrument and the high recording level seem entirely appropriate to this music. It must be admitted that the enthusiasm does seem to flag somewhat (were they recorded absolutely in order?): the Allegro spirituoso of the Sixth Sonata hardly warrants its designation, and the wit of the first movement of the Third is largely missed. Worse, Parys does Cherubini no favours when gliding over the (already fairly thin) surface of the First Sonatas second movement, or when being plain cumbersome (the second movement of the Second Sonata). Perhaps as a general rule sprightlier tempi would have injected a spring in the step.

The Cherubini discography is without doubt in need of expansion and it would have been a great pleasure to recommend this disc. In reality, however, van Parys is likely to win few over to Cherubini's cause.

Colin Clarke


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