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
Some of the slower ones - the other B Flat Major's larghetto
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
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.
see also review by Dominy Clements