Notes and Editorial Reviews
Complete Harpsichord Sonatas,
Pieter-Jan Belder (hpd)
BRILLIANT 93978 (2CDs: 127:55)
R69 in F; R70 in a; R71 in a; R72 in f; R73 in D; R74 in D; R75 in F; R76 in F; R77 in f?; R78 in f?; R79 in F?; M23 in c; M24 in c; M25 in B?; M29 in d; M36 in e; M38 in g; M44 in E?
With more than 130 CDs to his credit, Dutch harpsichordist Pieter-Jan Belder is a one-man recording industry. A good portion of this tally is taken
up with his
of the sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, issued in 10 volumes in 2008; Belder was only the third performer in history to record them, after Scott Ross and Richard Lester. Now Belder has embarked on the complete sonatas of Padre Antonio Soler (1729–83), whose 120 keyboard sonatas are a much less formidable project than the 555 of Scarlatti. Soler is often spoken of in the same breath as Scarlatti; he shares many stylistic traits with the older Italian master, and may in fact have studied with him. Unlike Scarlatti, Soler wrote a considerable amount of
kinds of music—chiefly chamber and vocal. (Scarlatti wrote a lot of vocal music before coming to Spain, but little of it has survived, thanks to his father Alessandro, who forced his son to destroy many of the manuscripts). I find Soler’s music endlessly fascinating; like Scarlatti’s, Soler’s keyboard style often places considerable virtuosic demands on the player, but there is a recognizable Spanish, or should I say Catalan, element to Soler that sets him apart. The Iberian flavor is most clearly heard in the 12-minute
, although this is hardly representational of the carefully worked-out compositional style of the sonatas. Again in counter-distinction to Scarlatti, Soler partook of other musical styles throughout his career; his six quintets for strings and harpsichord (or organ) show the influence of Haydn. Soler may have heard this music through the agency of Boccherini, who came to Spain in the 1770s. One wonders if Belder will venture into the chamber music with his ensemble Musica Amphion, but for now, it’s enough to have these excellent recordings. Once the series is complete (at the current pace it will require something like 10 volumes), Belder’s will be the second attempt to come to fruition, after the somewhat lackluster Gilbert Roland on Naxos.
I enjoyed Belder’s playing on these CDs much more than on his recent recording of the complete Rameau (reviewed in
34:2). Partly the difference is due to Belder’s choice of instrument—a Giusti copy for CD 1, and a Blanchet copy for CD 2. Both have a more agreeable sound than the instrument used in the Rameau, although this may be due in part to the difference in venue and recording technique. No explanation is given, but I suspect that the wider range of several of the sonatas on CD 2 (reaching down to F
) dictated the choice of the Blanchet. Excellent recorded sound and an in-depth essay on the composer complete the picture. Note that the “R” numbers on CD 1 indicate the Rubio edition. On CD 2, the “M” indicates the later Marvin edition, although the numbering is that of the Rubio. In this day and age of the Complete Everything, this is one project that makes both artistic and marketing sense.
FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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