“Brave Galuppi! That was music! Good alike at grave and gay!” wrote Robert Browning in A Toccata of Galuppi’s. And to judge by these sonatas, the poet’s enthusiasm was well placed. Like most of Galuppi’s 100-odd sonatas, many of them still unpublished, these are late works, probably written between the 1760s and early 1780s. In style they are eclectic, mingling Baroque traits (in, say, the stately opening movement of the D major sonata, or the two-part counterpoint of the F major), suave galanterie and the language of opera buffa, of which Galuppi was the first master.
Most of the movements are binary structures à la Domenico Scarlatti, with occasional hints of sonata-form development. And while there are few harmonic or textural surprises, the music is attractive, elegantly crafted and often melodically memorable, especially in the calm, lyrical arias that open several of the sonatas – the essence of Italianate bel canto recreated in idiomatic keyboard terms.
Playing on a modern concert grand (a fortepiano would surely have been preferable), Peter Seivewright gives pleasure in the soulfully sung slow movements. Faster ones have a certain robust vigour, though subtlety of touch and grace of details are not Seivewright’s strong suits; and too often – the Allegretto grazioso in the B flat sonata is just one case in point – the music cries out for nimbler fingerwork and more delicate, crystalline sonorities. It is tempting to imagine what, say, Murray Perahia or Andràs Schiff might make of these sonatas. But with competition non-existent, anyone who wants to explore some delightful and little-known pieces will have to make do with the serviceable but uninspiring Seivewright. Performance ** Sound ****
Looking forward to the release of this organ and harpsichord album later this year. Wouldn't mind seeing more images of the beautiful Holy Name Church in Manchester where it was recorded either! twitter.com/sirbasme…