Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Carlos SEIXAS (1704-1742)
Harpsichord Sonatas
Sonata no. 9 in C Major [5.29]
Sonata no. 15 in c minor [6.42]
Sonata no. 1 in C Major [3.56]
Sonata no. 14 in c minor [3.42]
Sonata no. 22 in d minor [2.26]
Sonata no. 24 in D Major [2.40]
Sonata no. 19 in D Major [4.48]
Sonata no. 25 in d minor [5.34]
Sonata no. 6 in C Major [3.20]
Sonata no. 13 in c minor [12.20]

José Luis Uriol/harpsichord
rec: November 1981.
PORTUGALSOM CD 870014/PS [51.40]

Carlos Seixas was a prolific Portuguese composer who wrote more than 700 keyboard works. Many of these pieces were lost in the great earthquake of 1755 that destroyed the musical library of the Royal Palace, but some one hundred keyboard sonatas, in addition to the works on this disc, are extant.

Seixas's musical career corresponds to a time when Portugal, which had been relatively isolated from the rest of Europe, opened itself to outside influences. One of the first musical influences was that of Italian baroque music, which can clearly be heard in these short sonatas.

Named vice-master of the Chapel Royal in Lisbon, Seixas was in contact with many foreign musicians, undoubtedly including Domenico Scarlatti, who came to Lisbon in 1719. While Seixas's works do not sound as though they are greatly influenced by Scarlatti's work, which is much more rhythmic and dynamic, it is clear that he learned from the great Italian composer.

This disc contains a selection of harpsichord sonatas, all of which contain three movements or less. These are very melodic pieces, not virtuoso works where the music is overwhelmed by its difficulty. Many of his works feature a relatively simple left-hand part, with melodic structures for the right hand that are developed and elaborated in variations. Some of them, such as sonata number 9 in C Major, have a clear Iberian sound, with a melody progressing over a harmonic base that modulates back and forth in two keys. This is similar to a great deal of Spanish guitar music in sound, and it produces some very interesting music on the harpsichord.

All in all, this is a very fine recording of some little-known works that any lover of 18th century harpsichord music should listen to. The only drawback is perhaps the selection of works - the 9 sonatas on this recording are all in 4 keys: C Major and minor, and D Major and minor. While it is possible that Seixas used only a limited number of keys for his works, a bit more variety on this recording might have been interesting.

A very attractive disc of short harpsichord works by a little-known 18th century Portuguese composer.

Kirk McElhearn


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