Pietro Domenico PARADISI (1707 - 1791)
Sonate di gravicembalo
Sonata I in G [8:54]
Sonata II in B flat [8:19]
Sonata III in E [10:00]
Sonata IV in c minor [6:52]
Sonata V in F [8:54]
Sonata VI in A [6:56]
Sonata VII in B flat [10:49]
Sonata VIII in e minor [11:12]
Sonata IX in a minor [8:49]
Sonata X in D [8:13]
Sonata XI in F [9:50]
Sonata XII in C [12:40]
Concerto in B flat [12:24]
Filippo Emanuele Ravizza (harpsichord)
rec. no date given, Bartok Studio, Bernareggio, Milan, Italy. DDD
CONCERTO CD 2008 [62:11 + 77:17]
The Italian harpsichordist Filippo Emanuele Ravizza seems to have a special
interest in lesser-known composers of the 18th century. Recently he recorded
the complete harpsichord sonatas by Giovanni Benedetto Platti; the first volume
was reviewed here.
Before that he had turned his attention to Pietro Domenico Paradisi, like Platti
a composer who went abroad to seek employment. Whereas Platti spent most of
his life in Germany, Paradisi - also known as Paradies - settled in London in
Paradisi was from Naples, as he added to his name on the title page of his sonatas
of 1754. Little is known about his formative years. It is assumed that he was
a pupil of Nicola Porpora, but there is no documentary evidence of this. As
with most Neapolitans he started writing music for the stage, but that wasn't
received well. Around 1740 he moved to Venice, and here his forays into the
field of music theatre also found little in the way of appreciation. His stay
in Venice had a lasting influence on his development as a composer of keyboard
music. He must have become acquainted with the keyboard works of the then dominant
Venetian composer, Baldassare Galuppi.
After his arrival in London he again presented an opera, and once again failed
to convince the music world of his capabilities in this department. Charles
Burney described his arias as "ill-phrased" and noticed a lack of grace. He
was full of praise, though, for Paradisi as a composer and teacher of the keyboard.
Among his pupils was Thomas Linley the elder. In 1754 the 12 sonatas which are
the subject of this disc were published in London. They were dedicated to Augusta,
Princess of Wales, and mother of the later King George III. These sonatas must
have been very popular as they were reprinted five times between 1765 and 1790.
They are written in the galant idiom of the mid-18th century, and that is expressed
by their structure in two movements. Almost all of them have a fast tempo indication,
like allegro, presto and vivace. Some refer to a moderate tempo, like andante
and moderato. There is just one really slow movement: the second of the Sonata
III, 'larghetto e cantabile'. The tempo indications only refer to a basic
tempo or character as many movements contain episodes which require a somewhat
slower speed. This is an indication that many movements encompass considerable
contrasts. The opening presto from the Sonata V is just one example,
with its often abrupt changes of mood. There seem to be clear influences of
Sturm und Drang here, a style which was common across the continent.
Many movements also suggest contrasts in dynamics. On the harpsichord - the
instrument for which Paradisi explicitly composed his sonatas - these can only
be realised by changing the manual, and that is what Ravizzi does. There are
other influences as well: the closing allegro of the Sonata VI and the
presto from the Sonata VIII are two examples of movements which are strongly
reminiscent of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti.
This set was recorded in 1995 by Enrico Baiano for the Italian label Symphonia.
I generally prefer his performances as he is more creative in his interpretation,
for instance in regard to ornamentation and the use of agogical means. His use
of rubato tends to be a little exaggerated, though. What speaks in favour of
Ravizzi's recording is the fact that he observes all repeats as indicated by
the composer. Baiano, on the other hand, often omits repeats, probably in order
to limit himself to one disc. Ravizzi also offers two further pieces, a Fantasia
in various movements, and the Concerto in B flat. The latter work was
originally written for harpsichord or organ with strings, and recently recorded
by Kah-Ming Ng with his ensemble Charivari Agréable (reviewed here).
Such concertos could often also be performed without accompaniment, and that
is how Ravizzi has recorded the piece.
His performances are technically accomplished and lively, with a good sense
of contrast. He plays a copy of a Dulcken harpsichord of 1742. Its sound tends
to be a bit aggressive which is enhanced by the close miking. Those who are
used to listening to a disc through headphones would be well advised to turn
the volume down. It is also advisable not to listen to these discs at a stretch.
The track-list omits the keys of the sonatas; thanks to various internet sites
I was able to add them. There is some confusion about the Fantasia: most
track-lists consider it the last movement of the Sonata III, but the
liner-notes clearly indicate that this is an independent piece which has been
preserved in manuscript.
To sum up, this is a rewarding set which lovers of harpsichord music will certainly
Johan van Veen
A rewarding set which lovers of harpsichord music will certainly enjoy.