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Spanish and Portuguese Keyboard Music Ė Volume 2
Rafael ANGLES (1730-1816)

Adagietto [1.59]
Fugato in B flat major [2.03]
Antonio SOLER (1729-1783)

Sonata in G minor [4.06]
Mateo FERRER (1788-1864)

Sonata in D major [4.22]
Joseph FREIXANET

Sonata in A major [2.37]
ANONYMOUS

Toccata in C major [2.58]
José Antonio Carlos de SEIXAS (1704-1742)

Fuga in A minor [4.10]
Sonata in C [7.09]
Minuet in A minor [3.05]
Toccata in D minor [3.46]
Sonata in F minor [5.22]
Sonata in C minor [8.22]
Sonata in D minor [3.47]
Felicja Blumental (piano)
No recording details
BRANA BR0022 [53.46]

Iíve not caught up with the first volume in this series but volume 2 devotes a great deal of playing time to Seixas. Blumental was an inveterate digger up of out-of-the-way repertoire and this disc is no exception. Judging by the transfer this CD is derived not from master tapes (if they are still extant) but from LP dubs. Iím assuming that, as with so many Blumental discs to which Iíve listened, they were recorded in the 1960s. Brana tends to play hot and cold with discographic information, sometimes giving month and year and sometimes giving neither.

Itís wrong to cast the pianist as a specialist in this or that repertory. She clearly had areas of especial excellence and concentration but, for example, her Arensky is basically fine and her exploration of eighteenth century Iberian music no less so. She covered styles and centuries with aplomb.

Soler shows a strong influence of Scarlatti, to which Blumental responds with purely pianistic sonority. Her fingering is light, even and persuasive; her pedalling is light and discreet. I donít know if she had heard Marcelle Meyer but the playing reminded me slightly of that great French pianist in music of this period.

Ferrerís Sonata is very reminiscent of Haydn and Blumental laces it with delicious treble sonorities and maybe just a hint of the fortepiano, fanciful though it may be to say of a pianist who avoids historicist concerns. Freixanetís Sonata is another that owes debts to Scarlatti and its relative complexity is immediately balanced by the very simple charms of a Toccata in C major by an anonymous composer.

Seixas is a not uninteresting composer whose attractive profile is enhanced by his through absorption of Scarlattian procedure. The allegro of his Sonata in C builds breathlessly though its Adagio, whilst sympathetic, lacks distinction. It might have been better for him to have ended this sonata with the Allegro and to started it with a revised Minuet, up to tempo, as it sounds back to front. The Sonata in D minor is concise and lightly flecked with whimsicality and a dash of the Iberian Gallant, a sort of Don Quixote of a sonata in all but length. Seixas was not averse to turning a few rhythmic games, as he does in the Minuet.

Nothing here is particularly profound or that reveals deeper currents in Spanish and Portuguese keyboard music. Instead itís syntheses and assimilated music-making in the main, neatly pointed by Blumental who enjoys the filigree whilst going light on the arm and foot weight.

Jonathan Woolf


 



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