Notes and Editorial Reviews
For the sceptical, further proof that the modern piano is a viable vehicle for Soler
If the performance of Soler’s Sonatas on the fortepiano is ‘debatable’ (as Lionel Salter rightly claimed), despite the fact that the instrument was in common use during Soler’s lifetime, the use of the modern piano is even more so. The main point at issue is that of imposed variations in dynamics which were/are impossible on a harpsichord. The overuse of staccato, redolent of hens in a feeding frenzy, also raises many disapproving eyebrows. So how does Elena Riu fare in these respects? Rather well, in fact. Her crescendi are unexaggerated and appropriate, and she is careful in giving more weight to the bass when it is the leading
line. She uses staccato to clarify the texture and rarely does one feel it to be a little OTT. Scarlatti’s influence on Soler was mainly in his application of advanced technique; in terms of musical content they were more forward-looking and adventurous. Their frequent subdivision into as many as four sections, all in the same key, broke the mould of the single-movement binary sonatas and had more of the character of suites.
Riu’s choice of repertory is nicely varied, including two sonatas drawn from sources other than the Rubio edition: one of these is in the key of D flat, territory into which Scarlatti did not venture. There are alternative recordings of most of these sonatas on the harpsichord, comparisons with which may reassure you that, if appropriately used, the modern piano is a viable medium for them. The recording and annotation are both of excellent quality.
-- John Duarte, Gramophone [5/2003]
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