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Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785)
Piano Sonatas
Sonata in G major 'Del Signor Buranello', Levi CF B 130 (Allegro) [3:51]
Sonata in C major (Adagio, Allegro) [10:52]
Sonata in D minor (Andantino, Presto) [8:44]
Sonata in B flat major (Larghetto, Allegro) [8:21]
Sonata in C minor (Allegro moderato, Allegretto) [11:17]
Sonata in A minor (Siciliana, Allegro) [6:19]
Sonata in B flat major, 'Sonata à Cimbelo del Sig.r Baldassar Galuppi', Levi CF 26 (Andante, Presto) [14:40]
Sonata in B flat major, 'Buranello All.°', Levi CF 26 (Allegro, Presto) [4:33]
Andrea Bacchetti (piano)
rec. 2007, Fazioli Concert Hall, Sacile, Italy. DDD
BMG-RCA RED SEAL 88697367932 [68:50]
Experience Classicsonline

A rather poorly-translated printed essay in gushing Italian comes with this welcome CD. On the disc a fuller version of the same text exists as a pdf. Both versions make the case for Baldassare Galuppi - who lived from 1706 to 1785 in the Venice area - as a 'wrongfully neglected genius'. So he may be. The playing, on a modern piano, leaves little doubt. Galuppi's melodies are flowing, original and beautiful. His sense of harmony is adventurous and solid. His lyrical structures are both light-handed and of great substance. Above all, there is a wistful originality in the composer's construction of the eighteenth century solo sonata that communicates far more than the form, as then conceived, suggested it would.

Only from the pdf version of the notes is it really clear that, although several of these lovely sonatas appear to be incomplete, they do in fact consist of one or two movements only. The B Flat Major, the last in the recital, is set out ambiguously - in the CD player the last four tracks show as if from the same work; yet the printed notes list them as two movements from each of two separate sonatas. In fact they share the same last movement. It's the one which was regularly included by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in his concerts as a concerto in its own right … "Presto di Galuppi".

This raises the chief note of caution regarding this Red Seal CD. Galuppi can perhaps best be understood as a composer - like C.P.E. Bach - who was working during the transition from the Baroque to Classical periods. Some of his faster movements have an intensity worthy of J.S. Bach (like the C Major's allegro [tr.3]). Some of the slower ones - the other B Flat Major's larghetto [tr.6], for example - almost remind one of Liszt! Hence a modern piano is not the best instrument to convey the full richness in sound of these works. Passage work, ornamentation and arpeggios in particular are all diminished. They're compressed such that we cannot really appreciate the texture, the relationship - even - of groups of notes one to another. In the slower movements, the resonance of the piano masks the plaintive and delicate tenor of the intended phrasing. This has to be a disincentive against getting this CD.

On the other hand, Bacchetti's approach is stylish and sensitive. He's otherwise an elegant ambassador for Galuppi's … genius. He's clearly in sympathy with the spirit and aims of Galuppi and very much at home in his idiom. What's more, given that there are few other similar recordings of this repertoire, you may be tempted to overlook such objections and investigate this CD anyway. It's not a question of authenticity; but of how much of the original musical intention survives the treatment.

There's little doubt that the spirit in which Andrea Bacchetti and co have approached the enterprise is a positive one. The selection has been carefully arranged to give variety and freshness between sonatas. The acoustic is appropriate: it's the hall owned by Fazioli, the makers of grand and concert pianos in Sacile near Venice.

Bacchetti was born in 1977 in Genoa and was a protégé of Karajan at his Mozarteum events. His playing has a delicacy and sensitivity from which this better-than-curio music only stands to benefit. If you can see past the unfortunate textures and sonorities - indeed the relative lack of texture and true sonority - Bacchetti's depth and real sympathy for the music is evident. But only listeners who prefer the modern sound of the piano will be repeatedly satisfied by this release.

Mark Sealey

see also review by Dominy Clements


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