WORKS: Eight Sonatas or Lessons
PERFORMER: Ewald Demeyere (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: ACC 21145
Arne’s Eight Sonatas or Lessons for harpsichord were published in 1756. They have subsequently received scant attention from either performers or record companies, and I can recall only one other commercially recorded recital of the complete set, by Christopher Hogwood (Decca, not currently available). Arne was a gifted melodist and, at least where these works are concerned, an assured craftsman. There is plenty of variety here, both stylistic and expressive, as the Fourth Sonata demonstrates so well. The idiom is mainly forward-looking to the galant, with hints of the German Empfindsamer Stil and of Domenico Scarlatti present here and there. But the prevailing atmosphere is peculiarly and charmingly English, as you will quickly discover from movements like the minuet and variations of the Third Sonata.
Ewald Demeyere is a pupil of Gustav Leonhardt and a member of the Belgian orchestra La Petite Bande. He captures the spirit of Arne’s sonatas with spontaneity and unhurried elegance, as well as contributing a thoughtful accompanying note. His instrument is a fine-sounding harpsichord by the English craftsman Michael Johnson, who has based it on a mid-18th-century French model. The recorded sound is a bit too close and clinical for my liking, resulting in an excessive brightness and hardness of tone. Otherwise, this is an entertaining release. Nicholas Anderson