Josep GALLÉS (1758-1836)
Sonatas for Harpsichord
Sonata in C Minor, No. 9: Allegretto [5:49]
Sonata in F Minor, No. 16: Allegro [4:57]
Sonata in B-Flat Major, No. 1: Cantabile - Largo [7:01]
Sonata in B-Flat Major, No. 2: Allegro [6:47]
Sonata in G Minor, No. 8: Presto [4:17]
Sonata in C Minor, No. 3: Andante [6:43]
Sonata in A-Flat Major, No. 6: Allegro [6:22]
Sonata in F Minor, No. 4: Largo, allegro [8:45]
Sonata in D Minor, No. 12: Allegretto [4:45]
Sonata in B Minor, No. 7: Andantino [6:36]
Sonata in E Minor, No. 11: Cantabile - Largo [4:58]
Sonata in E Minor, No. 15: Allegro [4:55]
Sonata in C Minor, No. 17: Cantabile - Largo [6:45]
Michele Benuzzi (harpsichord)
rec. Chiesa di San Geminiano presso Castello di Montetortore (MO), Italy, 24-26 June 2015
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95228 [78:51]
If the name Josep Gallés is new to you it is hardly surprising as he seems to have been a composer who has suffered almost total neglect. There is not even a Wikipedia entry in English, with this seemingly the first disc dedicated to his music. One problem seems to have been the relatively small number of works that he composed. Just 23 keyboard sonatas and a few Versos for organ have come down to us. Gallés was born in Castellterçol in the Catalan province of Barcelona becoming the organist and choirmaster of the Cathedral of San Pedro de Vic near the city of Barcelona.
His sonatas are mainly composed in single movement format with contrasting sections. Whilst more ambitious than those of other Spanish composers of the period these works are regarded as quite simple in form and free from ornamentation. This and the note structure has led some to suggest that the sonatas were destined to be performed on the new-fangled forte piano as well as the harpsichord. All I know is that they sound very attractive in this performance.
Anyone composing keyboard in Spain during this period was undoubtedly influenced by the music of Domenico Scarlatti, who despite being born in Italy, was for most of his professional life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He became a great influence on the subsequent generations of Iberian composers. Here Scarlatti's later sonatas seem to have influenced Gallés. There is, also a hint of Anton Soler as well as a particular Spanish style of fingering which leads to the guitar-like sound of the instrument. Just listen to the Sonata in B Minor, No. 7 for an example.
Michele Benuzzi, who also writes the booklet notes, has made his name recording works from the more obscure world of harpsichord music. This disc is no different. Benuzzi shows that he has ample technique to bring this music to life, giving performances that leave me wondering why Brilliant only commissioned him to record thirteen of the twenty-four sonatas. I hope that Benuzzi will be given the opportunity to record the remaining ten. The harpsichord is a copy by Detmar Hungerberg of an instrument by Michael Mietke. It sounds well suited to this music.