Galuppi: Piano Sonatas

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Galuppi
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Piano Sonatas
PERFORMER: Andrea Bacchetti (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88697367932

Advertisement

In his lifetime the Venetian Baldassarre Galuppi (1706-85) was celebrated throughout Europe, above all for his collaborations with Carlo Goldoni in the newly popular genre of opera buffa. Today, he is more likely to be remembered for inspiring a famous sonnet by Browning than for his music, much of which – including most of his 100-odd keyboard sonatas – remains unpublished. Andrea Bacchetti and musicologist Mario Marcarini, passionate Galuppi advocates both, have made their own editions of eight sonatas, all except one in two movements. 

Their enthusiasm is easy to share, especially in the case of the three minor-keyed sonatas here. Finest of all, perhaps, is the D minor, opening with a gravely beautiful Andantino – an operatic lament recreated in terms of the keyboard – and closing with a wiry Presto full of truculent exchanges between left and right hands. In the major-keyed sonatas the tender galanterie of the slow movements often suggests JC Bach or the young Mozart, while the darting, impish Presto finales breathe the spirit of Domenico Scarlatti.  

Advertisement

Once or twice Bacchetti is tempted to ruminate at the expense of forward momentum – I’m thinking particularly of the single-movement G major Sonata, with its pastoral drones, and the opening movement of the C minor Sonata, which emerges here as soulful Andante rather than the prescribed Allegro moderato. Far more often, though, his luminous tone, crisp articulation and delicate touches of timing give unalloyed pleasure. He spins an eloquent singing line in Galuppi’s operatically inspired slow movements, and gleefully relishes the caprice and roguish wit of the finales. Richard Wigmore