Manuel Blasco de NEBRA (1750-1784)
Complete Piano Works - Volume 3
Six Sonatas; Seis sonatas para clave y pianoforte, op. 1: Sonata No.1 [9:42]; Sonata No.2 [9:30]; Sonata No. 3 [8:54]; Sonata No. 4 [9:14]; Sonata No.5 [9:44]; Sonata No.6 [9:34]
Sonatas para pianoforte (del manuscrito 2998 de la abadía de Montserrat): Sonata No. 11: Allegro [2:51]; Sonata No.12: Allegro [3:21]
Pedro Piquero (piano)
rec. November 2010, Conservatorio Victoria de los Angeles, Madrid
COLUMNA MÚSICA 1CM0240 [62:43]
Manuel Blasco de Nebra, Seville-born contemporary of Mozart, has undergone a small voyage of rediscovery in recent years. In the vanguard has been pianist Pedro Piquero, himself a native of that city of oranges, who has arrived at the last volume in his three disc survey of the solo piano music.
What a curiously compelling composer de Nebra proves to be. He’s more prone to soliloquise than to address a crowd, more given to introspection than vainglory. And yet he can certainly parade his wares, as the Op.1 Sonatas clearly prove. These are all two movement structures, with an Adagio followed by an Allegro or Presto finale. The opening movement is invariably more extended than the finale that follows, and the expressive weight inevitably falls heavily on that first slow movement.
These openings are grave, interior and introspective. Sometimes they sound almost too tentative for public performance. This unshowy gravity, spare of syntax, denuded musically speaking of adverbs and adjectives, is part of Nebra’s individuality. He can be almost-solemn, as in the opening of No.4, but the main tenor is a tempered gravity, as in No.2, with its gradient chordal steps that present a compelling sound world. These slow movements are explicitly contrasted with their finales: Yin to Yang. These are lightly embellished with trills, ascending and descending runs, light and airy in the extreme. They don’t cleave to any Galant model, though in general one could, I suppose, point to the influence of C.P.E. Bach and Soler. In the finale of No.6 one can also hear crosscurrents from Haydn.
The two Sonatas para fuerte piano were written for the fortepiano, unlike the six Sonatas Op.1, which were written explicitly for harpsichord or fortepiano.  These two little one-movement sonatas, the manuscripts of which are housed in the abbey of Montserrat, reveal another clear influence - that of Scarlatti. He hovers benignly over these two, and though they’re played on a modern piano, Piquero manages to suggest the sound of a harpsichord, most notably in No.12.
This excellent series has been in more than capable hands throughout. Piquero’s performance of the slow movement of No.7, in particular, is a real highlight. The seamless aria of the music, its deeply vocalised quality, is superbly realised by the Spanish pianist.  This absorbing recital has been well recorded. 

Jonathan Woolf
An absorbing recital well recorded.