Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

AmazonUK AmazonUS
(release date Sept 2nd 2008)


Padre Antonio SOLER (1729-1783)
Complete Harpsichord Sonatas – Volume 1

Fandango [11:50]
Sonata No.100 in C minor [8:46]
Sonata No.103 in C minor [3:35]
Sonata No.117 in D minor [5:10]
Sonata No.84 in D major [3:10]
Sonata No.118 in A minor [3:49]
Sonata No.47 in C minor [5:13]
Sonata No.48 in C minor [3:09]
Sonata No.6 in F major [4:01]
Sonata No.115 in D minor [3:12]
Sonata No.116 in G major [4:31]
Sonata No.140 in D flat major [4:08]
Sonata No.88 in D flat major [5:05]
Sonata No.20 in C sharp minor [9:33]
Sonata No.21 in C sharp minor [5:56]
Sonata No.85 in F sharp minor [7:08]
Sonata No.90 in F sharp minor [5:29]
Sonata No.1 in A major [4:00]
Sonata No.120 in D minor [4:07]
Sonata No.4 in G major [4:16]
Sonata No.119 in B flat major [4:34]
Sonata No.80 in G minor [4:18]
Sonata No.81 in G minor [4:13]
Sonata No.18 in C minor [7:34]
Sonata No.19 in C minor [5:33]
Pieter-Jan Belder (harpsichord)
rec. 11-13 February 2008, Oud-Katholieke Kerk, Delft
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93758 [56:39 + 76:01]
Experience Classicsonline

That fine Australian poet Peter Porter, resident in London for more than fifty years, is the author of many outstanding poems on musical subjects – poems such as ‘St Cecilia’s Day, 1710, in Memory of W.F. Bach’ and ‘Schumann Sings Schubert’, to name but two. In a fairly recent collection – Max is Missing (Picador, 2001) – he includes the poem ‘Antonio Soler’s Fingertips’. The poem is a dramatic monologue of sorts. Porter’s Soler talks of himself as a kind of "Keyboard Penelope":
Keyboard Penelope, I spin through gloom
Of the Escorial such notes, each tune
A fresh-cut flower in an airless room.

There’s a fine evocation of some of the music’s associations and seeming images:
Into the minor then – mad kings appear
Beside their tombs: listen and you’ll hear
The roads of Spain, the mule and his muleteer,

Whispering Italians with their loud fiati,
Fresco-painters hoping for contratti,
The immortality of dead Scarlatti.

The poem ends with a kind of confessio from the composer:
I play all night and pray by rote at Prime.
Christ on the Cross made blood and water rhyme.
Up Calvary my harpsichord must climb.

Porter’s Soler prays by rote; the Jeronymite monk has perhaps put his faith in his music or, at any rate, his religious duties have taken second place to it. Quite what was true of the historical Soler is very hard to know. Outside the music itself it is hard to get an idea of the man’s personality. Contemporary or near contemporary comments on him have about them the air of the conventional, praising him for the virtues he was expected to have perhaps, rather than for what he really was. An obituary written by one of his fellow monks (on the day Soler died) praises him for his religious devotion and his compassion – but could hardly be expected to say anything else, after all. Soler, one suspects, did not want to reveal much of himself. From June 1765 he entered into correspondence with the great Padre Giovanni Battista Martini in Bologna, teacher, music historian, composer and collector; he sent scores and books to Martini; he asked for his advice and opinions; but he refused to send a portrait for Martini’s collection of composer portraits (some of which can now be seen in the fascinating Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica in Bologna). So far as I know, no authenticated portrait of Soler survives. It is to the music itself that we must turn, as Porter did, if we want an ‘image’ of Soler; and the image which that music encourages doesn’t perhaps sit easily with conventional ideas of a Jeronymite monk, committed to a particularly austere lifestyle. There is paradox and mystery in much of Soler’s music, and Pieter Belder communicates more than a little of such matters in these performances, the first two CDs of a projected complete set of the sonatas.

Naxos have not long finished issuing Gilbert Rowland’s generally reliable recording of the sonatas. At first encounter, and having only these two CDs to go on, Belder tackles the music with more passion, more fire, than Rowland often does. And, unlike some of the earlier volumes in the Naxos series, the recorded sound here is good and bright without excess. Rowland sounds just a little straight-laced when one makes direct comparisons of particular sonatas. I am glad to have a number of the CDs by Rowland on my shelves, but someone only now setting out to build a Soler collection would probably be best advised to go with Belder (assuming that later sets are as good as this first one). It is, though, worth saying that Rowland’s set has the advantage of better notes – by the soloist himself.

Belder has undertaken more than a few ‘completes’ for Brilliant (not least his Scarlatti recordings) both as a solo harpsichordist and as the leader and director of Musica Amphion. Most of these have been of consistently high quality. Just occasionally in the extensive Scarlatti series one sensed an air of the routine, of the necessary recording of a sonata which didn’t perhaps interest or excite Belder greatly – the problem that faces any ‘completist’. But on these first two discs of Soler there is absolutely no sense of the routine, Belder seeming thoroughly engaged with every note that he plays.

The tone is set by a blistering performance of the 450 bars of Soler’s Fandango (if it is his?), the ostinato bass worked up vivaciously, the rhythms incisive, the phrasing packed with energy. In all that follows Belder captures the spirit of the music in very convincing fashion, whether that be in the Largo cantabile of No.110 or the Prestissimo of No.81, the syncopations here being particularly effective.

Belder uses two instruments. On the first CD (from the Fandango to Sonnet 116, inclusive) he plays a 1999 copy by Cornelius Bom of a Ruckers instrument; on the second CD he plays a 2003 copy by Bom of an original by Giusti. Both instruments are impressive, that based on the model provided by the Luccan-born maker Giusti perhaps having the edge in delicacy and intimacy of sound, that copied from Ruckers packing the slightly greater punch.

Throughout Belder does full justice to the exuberance of Soler’s work as well as to its moments of sudden depth, there being abundant light and shade here. Like any good Spanish church of the period, Soler’s work has its equivalents both of rosy coloured cherubic angels and of saints lost to the world in meditation. And, for that matter, the odd mad king or muleteer. This first instalment makes one eager for later volumes in the series.

Glyn Pursglove


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.