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Pietro Domenico PARADISI (1706/07-1791)
Sonatas I-X from ‘Sonate de gravicembalo’ (London 1754)
Sonata X in D major [6:17]
Sonata I in G major [5:59]
Sonata IV in G major [10:58]
Sonata V in F major [8:17]
Sonata VI in A major [8:02]
Sonata III in E major [8:19]
Sonata II in B flat major [10:47]
Sonata VII in B flat major [10:05]
Sonata VIII in E minor [7:55]
Sonata IX in A minor [9:27]
Anna Paradiso (harpsichord, clavichord and fortepiano)
rec. 2018, Petruskyrkan, Danderyd, Sweden
Reviewed in stereo.
BIS BIS-2415 SACD [87:57]

The name Pietro Domenico Paradisi or Paradies was at one time mentioned as being in the same league as Domenico Scarlatti, but Anna Paradiso’s booklet notes tell us that there just wasn’t enough of a musical legacy to give his name significance to posterity. Details of what is known about his life are also outlined in the booklet, but these are not extensive and not always beyond a certain amount of conjecture.

Paradisi wrote twelve Sonate de gravicembalo, and in the ten selected here Anna Paradiso has “tried to underline Paradisi’s theatrical idiom, with all its different gestures, through phrasing, rubato and flexibility in tempo changes as well as different kinds of touch.” She adds tasteful and idiomatic ornamentations, and her expressive approach does indeed add some of the surprise and drama you might expect from C.P.E. Bach to go along with the acceptability and ease of the ‘galant’ style.

The two-movement form of each of these sonatas hides a surprisingly wide variety of moods, and Paradiso takes advantage of the expressive qualities of a very fine sounding clavichord for Sonata IV in G minor, with its extended fantasia like Andante first movement. This is an original instrument from 1792, as is the 1802 John Broadwood & Sons fortepiano used in Sonata VI, which is a few years outside Paradisi’s lifetime but has most of the qualities of sound of the fortepianos that were becoming popular in his time. The dynamic contrasts offer a wealth of expressive light and shade just not possible on harpsichord, and some of the music-box pedal effects are truly delightful - sparingly used, but much appreciated. The harpsichord used is also very fine sounding indeed: a recent copy of a French instrument from 1730 that has a satisfying sparkle and subtle variety of tone over its range that brings out the dramatic qualities that Paradiso emphasises in her playing. The beautiful Aria second movement of Sonata III also reveals how expressive the harpsichord can be, contrasting through use of a lute stop to create “a little, magic pool of intimate and sweet longings…”

Anna Paradiso introduced Paradisi into the programme of her debut recital back in 2013 (review), and with this superbly engineered BIS recording she reinforces her reputation as one of today’s leading keyboard players. There are a few recordings of Paradisi’s sonatas around, including Filippo Emanuele Ravizza on the Concerto CD label (review). Recorded only on harpsichord and spread over two discs, this doesn’t have the variety of Anna Paradiso’s set, but Johan van Veen considered it a rewarding release and it does have the complete 12 sonatas and a Concerto in B flat by way of added attraction. At a hair under 88 minutes this BIS album is going to be one of the longest in your collection, and there is even a little hint in the booklet to remedy problems you might encounter with it on your CD equipment. I had no trouble even with an ancient player I only keep around as it has a handy programme function for adding up track timings, so you certainly shouldn’t be put off by having too much of such excellent music.

Dominy Clements

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