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Carlos De Seixas: Harpsichord Sonatas, Vol. 2 / Debora Halasz

Seixas / Halasz
Release Date: 08/30/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570216   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SEIXAS Harpsichord Sonatas, Vol. 2 Débora Halász (hpd) NAXOS 8.570216 (73:38)


In comparing the first volume (Naxos 8.557459) in this series to another recording of Seixas’s harpsichord sonatas by Christian Brembeck (Musicaphon M 55867), I wrote that among Halász’s virtues, she held “the trump card in the form of a complete, forthcoming recorded edition.” That was in Fanfare 30:1, back in 2006. I might have been more chary at using Read more that word “complete” if I’d known five years would pass before the second volume arrived. Still, here it is, and far better late than never.


This album contains 25 sonatas. On top of the 27 included in the last release, that makes for 52, leaving another 28 for a third album, as Halász uses Marcario Santiago Kastner’s edition. (Some other sonatas have appeared since then, of unconfirmed authenticity, so perhaps she’ll find space to include these as well.) The selection is varied, with multiple-movement and single-movement pieces, very short and much longer ones, those that emphasize Iberian folk elements and others that are more Italianate, offered in quick succession. No one has yet worked out a stylistic timeline for Seixas’s keyboard pieces—or is likely to, given that the vast majority (more than 700 sonatas, by one count) were destroyed in manuscript during the earthquake of 1755 that is estimated to have reduced 75 percent of Lisbon’s buildings to rubble. The quality of what remains behind only emphasizes the loss.


Halász certainly has the technique for this often complex music, and the theatrical manner of the Spanish Baroque down pat. The latter is evident in the authoritative way she employs pauses and lengthened notes to emphasize phrase groups and moments of harmonic interest—typically in such sonatas as No. 16 in C Minor and the first movement of No. 65 in A Minor, where the Spanish guitar is imitated in detail. This dramatic rhetoric doesn’t get in the way of other sonatas on this album where the forward impulse and the galant gesture reign supreme, a change from her previous release, where such devices interrupted several pieces that relied more upon consistent momentum to score their points.


By way of contrast, both Bremback and Robert Woolley (Amon Ra 43) play all of this music in a more straightforwardly metrical manner that largely ignores its theatrical dimension. Concerning Brembeck, I also feel more strongly now than I previously did about his practice of usually repeating only the first section of each sonata: It changes the shape of the work, and not in a positive way. Given that some of Seixas’s sonatas are of substantial length, this can add up to quite a difference. Occasionally he drops repeats to both movements, as in the Sonata No. 16 mentioned above, which largely accounts for the disparity in timings between his recording (4:37) and that of Halász (9:37). Bremback’s version is a pleasant listening experience, soon forgotten. Halász, with her repeats and guitar-like phrasing, makes a greater impression. Whether this sense of deepened profile, of musical size, is in fact authentic or not, is something that can’t be determined. I only know that I find Halász’s Seixas more impressive as a composer, while staying well within the bounds of what we know of contemporary performance practice.


In short, while I liked Halász’s first album in this series, I find this one still more commendable. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait five years for the third and final release to appear.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 3 in C major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
2.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 35 in E minor by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
3.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 16 in C minor by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
4.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 45 in G major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
5.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 60 in A major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
6.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 65 in A minor by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
7.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 40 in F major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
8.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 28 in D minor by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
9.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 33 in E flat major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
10.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 53 in G minor by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
11.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 47 in G major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Portugal 
12.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 39 in F major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
13.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 1 in C major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
14.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 78 in B flat major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Portugal 
15.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 20 in D major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
16.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 38 in E major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)
17.
Sonatas (80) for Harpsichord: no 58 in A major by Carlos Seixas
Performer:  Débora Halász (Piano)

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