The Neapolitan Masters
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in C minor L352 K11 [2:34]
Sonata L23 K380 [6:23]
Sonata L33 K87 [6:16]
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Largo from Stabat Mater (1736) [5:01]
Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801)
Sonata in A minor [No.2] [2:45]
Sonata in D minor [No.9] [2:18]
Sonata in D minor [No.42] [2:48]
Sonata in C minor [No.66] [3:08]
Sigismund THALBERG (1812-1871)
Berceuse (1846) [6:37]
Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856-1909)
Nocturne in G flat minor Op.70 No.1 (1891) [6:31]
Nocturne in F sharp minor Op.70 No.2 (1891) [8:06]
Alessandro LONGO (1864-1945)
Romantic Suite for Piano Op.19 [20:22]
Giuseppe DEVASTATO (b.1977)
Notturno La gondola [3:36]
Giuseppe Devastato (piano)
rec. September 2009, Studio L’Eremo, Lessona
Despite the apparently self-explanatory title it’s not quite true to say that all the composers represented here were Neapolitan. Obviously not in the case of Thalberg. Still, Giuseppe Devastato’s recital moves forward with a certain inexorable chronological logic – to end with himself! – even if the mileposts are not quite the expected ones.
He begins in time-honoured fashion with some Scarlatti sonatas. These are affectionately phrased but some will miss a greater incursive spirit. He doesn’t characterise the martial exploits of K380 with quite such chordal individuality as, say, Marcelle Meyer used to display. He prefers a more clement and peaceable view, and as a result it’s a touch immobile and undernourished. Again in K87 he’s inclined to drag a bit – Meyer, at a somewhat brighter tempo, can bring out the harmonies and colour more effectively - and his K11 is rather straight, after Carlo Grante’s more characterful performance [Music & Arts 1236].
Pergolesi’s famous Largo from the Stabat Mater comes next in a nicely voiced performance. There then follows a sequence from Cimarosa. Though these individual sonatas are numbered in the jewel box running order they don’t seem to correspond to the Rossi numbers assigned to these works. I can’t claim to be any kind of aficionado of Cimarosa’s rather obscure keyboard works, so I’m struggling and would have welcomed some booklet help. The D minor is the pick of the quartet – its gentle lyricism is well conveyed. But the C minor ends abruptly, for some reason.
Thalberg’s Berceuse is a mid-century charmer – one imagines the salon frisson as he unfurled it – and then we have the two Martucci Nocturnes. His chamber and solo piano works are rather underestimated these days – his chamber works are often conjoined on disc with those of Respighi and judged to be wanting, which I find an unfortunate judgement. These Nocturnes are full of his habitual grace and elegance, and have a huge amount of sheer communicative strength; they don’t especially aspire to profundity but that should hardly be counted against them.
Longo, of Scarlatti fame, contributes a Suite that is warmly Schumannesque in outlook, rich in ardour and bravura, and its backward looking homage is no bar to enjoyment. The rather raw sound quality unfortunately does limit one’s pleasure somewhat. As an envoi we have the pianist’s own Notturno called La gondola and the rocking wit of the writing is genuinely enjoyable.
Some up-and-down moments here. The recorded sound can be pretty raw. The booklet timing is over-ambitious by three minutes, if you’re counting. I would try the Martucci brace first.
Jonathan Woolf
Some up-and-down moments here ... see Full Review