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Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785): Complete Piano Sonatas Volume 1.    Peter Seivewright the divine art 2-5006 [58:13]



This is a fascinating disc and the beginning of a very important project in which Peter Seivewright is to record all 90 of Galuppi's keyboard sonatas and endeavour to publish them so that we can perform them too.

What makes this project so important is that it is a pioneering undertaking. There is no performing tradition in Galuppi sonatas as there is in say Scarlatti or Bach. Mr Seivewright has to establish a performing tradition in effect. He has already conducted detailed research in Venice and has been shocked at comparing manuscripts of the sonatas and unearthed endless copyist errors. It is clear that his dedication to this task is similar to Ralph Kirkpatrick's commitment to the Scarlatti sonatas.

The Galuppi manuscripts do not give clear indications as to tempo, dynamics, ornamentation and character. As you will see the sonatas are not numbered and on this disc you have two in A minor and two in C minor. The work of cataloguing and editing will take some time.

Some of the sonatas have a baroque feel while others approach early Beethoven as you might expect from Galuppi's time (1706 - 1785). His music is very tuneful, unpretentious and untrammelled by 'early music fussiness'. They are far more appealing that Scarlatti sonatas.

I have to commend the recording engineer on this disc, Douglas Doherty who produces a close, intimate and crisp sound.

As to the sonatas ....

Sonata in A minor

Here Peter Seivewright gives us a splendid example as to how to play cantabile which all students and fellow pianists would do well to emulate. The opening movement is tuneful and coherent, expertly realised with colour and a very sensitive performance. The tempo is expertly judged. The allegro vivace is an engaging movement with welcome contrasts and displays clear and reliable finger work.

Sonata in C minor

The expressive cantabile is again present in adagio molto. There is some exquisite imitation. And the darkness of C minor that one usually associates with Mozart and Beethoven is here. It is often very beautiful. The allegro has clear form and, again, is very tuneful. The choice of ornamentation is excellent and adds to, rather than distorts the sheer melodic joy.

Sonata in B flat

This begins with a long andantino movement full of melodic invention and played with superb sensitivity. Even scales sound fresh and original. The allegro is playful.

Sonata in C minor

This is a three movement work. A descending arpeggio figure is one of its many features. the allegro is both captivating and contagious and, yet again, there is a melody that sounds 'mountain fresh'. The final allegro assai seems to stutter a little.

Sonata in A

The andante is a good piece and improves with further listening. It takes an exceptional composer to so cleverly develop what appears to be scant material. There is a final allegro.

Sonata in G minor

The substantial opening largo is a fascinating inner quest by the composer. The allegro energico is fugal in character and makes compelling listening. The final allegretto grazioso has a courtly but not affected elegance and the performance is infused with a splendid variety of tone and colour.

Sonata in E

This is an allegro followed by variations, and splendid they are. Again the performance is one of reliable finger work and great sensitivity.

Sonata in F

A long slow movement begins with tremendous beauty and develops into exciting energy. The thoughtful finale may surprise a few listeners.

The 'sleeve booklet' gives an excellent introduction to the life and times of this gifted composers and whets our appetite for further helpings.

Highly recommended


David Wright



and Peter Grahame Woolf says

This CD heralds an ambitious project, backed by the player's liner notes  which are headed The life and times of Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785) part  one. Peter Seivewright is an experienced pianist with international  appearances and many CDs under his belt (Nielsen for Naxos; Romantic Danish  Piano Music for Rondo, etc).

He claims 'dazzling height' for Galuppi's works for the newly established  piano, in Seivewright's view 'the greatest musical instrument ever invented',  then establishing its pre-eminence in Venice and quickly supplanting  harpsichord and clavichord. (I'll have more to say about that elsewhere!)  He claims Galuppi's sonatas as his greatest contribution to the history of  musical composition. I find those claims questionable and much of the music,  in these performances on a modern concert grand, dull and uninspiring.  

In expert hands music of the period can sound fine on today's pianos  (e.g. Scarlatti played by Mikhail Pletnev is unalloyed delight; I know no better way to start the day than with a few of them - Virgin VCD5 45123-2)  but neither Galuppi nor Seivewright are in that class. The project (10 CDs  featuring 90 sonatas) seems possibly misconceived. It might have been prudent to have trawled the series to taste the water by starting with a  sampler, selecting some of the better sonatas, and then to consider more  appropriate instruments for future releases?


Peter Grahame Woolf


David Wright



Peter Grahame Woolf

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