Baldassare Galuppi’s place in music history rests chiefly on his role in the development of opera buffa ,yet he composed much other music besides. He also travelled widely, spending time, among other places, in London, Paris and Russia, and it was in the last of these that his reputation as a brilliant keyboard player was mainly established. Grove lists “125 or more sonatas, toccatas, divertimentos, lessons, etc” by him, and these must have been written for the harpsichord although they are described on the above CD as being piano sonatas. It seems these were mostly written form 1755 onwards (Galuppi’s dates are 1706-85) and they are in two or occasionally three movements. Most of the movements are in major keys and they are in binary form with repeat marks. The style is similar, given the differences in the mediums, to the arias in Galuppi’s operas. Certainly the keyboard writing is entirely idiomatic, with figures passing from one hand to another, arpeggios in both hands and a fair amount of hand-crossing. The form of these little movements, none of which on the above CD lasts more than a few minutes, is concise and Galuppi’s treatment of his thematic material is concentrated – which is more than can be said of many of his Italian contemporaries.
Peter Seivewright recorded all these sonatas in the Matt Thomson Concert Hall at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 1999 and his absolutely immaculate execution is matched by the clarity of the recorded sound. He also provides a most interesting note on the relationship between Galuppi, his music, and the Counter-Enlightenment. It is difficult to imagine this particular repertoire being presented to better advantage.