Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785)
Keyboard Sonatas - Volume 3
Sonata in D minor, Illy 66 [10:27]
Allegro in C, Illy 30 [3:39]
Sonata in C minor, Illy 38 [5:56]
Sonata in F, Illy 36 [10:43]
Sonata in B flat, Illy 23 [8:30]
Sonata in A minor Illy deest [5:43]
Sonata in F, Illy 50 [3:45]
Sonata in A minor, Illy 43 [6:46]
Sonata in E, Illy 41 [9:14]
Matteo Napoli (piano)
rec. Music Theatre, Auckland University, New Zealand, 20-21 November 2010. DDD
NAXOS 8.572672 [65:13] 

This is the third volume in the Naxos tribute to the keyboard Sonatas of Baldassare Galuppi, as performed by Italian pianist Matteo Napoli. Volumes 1 and 2 appeared last year - see enthusiastic reviews here and here. Napoli's decision to perform the whole cycle on a modern pianoforte is sure to raise eyebrows. Some, if not many, will feel that the Sonatas naturally belong on a period instrument, whether harpsichord or fortepiano. The sonorities, slender textures and delicate ornamentations of Galuppi's alternately late-Baroque and forward-looking pre-Galant music inevitably lose something in translation on a richly resonating piano.
On the other hand, Johann Sebastian Bach himself has, after all, been heard many times on the modern piano; like those accounts, this is another way of listening to Galuppi that takes nothing away from historically authentic performances of the same. Moreover, those for whom the idiosyncratic tone of the harpsichord or fortepiano holds little attraction will find plenty to be enthusiastic about that they might otherwise have shunned.
Though there are certain similarities with the early keyboard pieces of Mozart, Galuppi's music is most frequently reminiscent of Scarlatti, whose own Sonatas are currently being recorded on a modern piano by Napoli's compatriot Carlo Grante for the Music & Arts label - see review of the first two 6-CD volumes. Ditto Naxos' ongoing multi-pianist cycle, currently standing at volume 14 (8.572586).
Galuppi is at any rate justly famed for his huge contribution to opera buffa, but he was also a prolific and popular composer of keyboard music, particularly sonatas, of which there are now known to be over 130. His sound is original, his musicianship masterly and mellifluous. Sonata after varied Sonata is brimming with elegant melody and fluent invention, graceful and rewarding, and unblighted by bravura for its own sake. It comes as no surprise that it was not only Galuppi's opera music that was in great demand.
As in previous volumes, Napoli's elegant, sensitive recital consists of a selection of Sonatas in various keys, ranging in length from four to eleven minutes, with a mixture of works of three movements and two, plus a single one- and four-movement item for good measure. This is not intended as a 'Complete Sonatas' series, but who knows. Galuppi's almost total neglect until the end of the 20th century merely highlights the typically mindless nature of musical fashion.
This volume was recorded a year on from the first two, and sound quality is now at its best - slightly dry, but the microphones are perfectly placed. Veteran note-writer Keith Anderson’s biography of Galuppi is identical with previous volumes, but there are fairly detailed notes on the works heard here. The Venetian canal scene in the cover photo matches those on the first two volumes.
Collected reviews and contact at
Galuppi's almost total neglect highlights the typically mindless nature of musical fashion.