Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soler - 6 Concertos for 2 Keyboards - Gilbert, Pinnock

  • Release Date: 1996

Antonio Soler (1729-83) was educated in the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat near Barcelona and became a monk. This however did not prevent his working at the Spanish Court in Madrid with Domenico Scarlatti and teaching various members of the royal family. He had almost too much facility as a composer, as is apparent in the six so-called 'concertos' which fill the two sides of this record to the brim, but an individual charm surfaces from time to time. The surviving manuscript (which is not Soler's) describes them as for two organs, which seems unlikely, and they are here played on two very recent harpsichords by Clayson & Garrett "after Vincenzio Sodi, Florence, 1782" or on two forte pianos by Adlam Burnett "after Mathaeus Heilmann, Mainz, c.1785", admirable instruments all. All but one of the concertos is in two movements, the finales being minuets with variations and most of the first movements in galante binary form. Much of the music is very simple in content, almost as though the composer accepted that his audience would be talking through performances, as perhaps they did, and he hardly ever astonishes you as Scarlatti so often did. However No. 3 has a goodish first movement, there is a courtly grace about No. 4, the middle movement of No. 2 (the one with three movements) is positively passionate, and No. 6 starts with quite a racket though the surprise is short-lived. The music is played with unfailing skill and sympathy, and it has been very well recorded.—Gramophon

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