Penguin Guide To Compact Discs

Galuppi’s keyboard music was brought to the notice of record collectors by a C major Sonata included by Michelangeli in a Decca mono LP recital, and he turned it into a little pearl. Galuppi was also celebrated by Browning, but alas the “Toccata” his poem describes does not actually exist. However, some 90 sonatas do, and they are all being recorded by Peter Seivewright, using a modern piano but with only modest pedalling in slow movements and crisp, clean articulation in Allegros. He is a sensitive artist and obviously enjoys this repertoire, and he communicates this enjoyment to us.

These works appear to be the epitome of simplicity, but in fact they are usually through-composed, so that movements are built, often quite imaginatively and always resourcefully, out of the same basic material. Certain movements stand out, for instance the bouncing Presto second movement of the three-movement Sonata in C minor on the first disc, which is surprisingly like the second movement of the Sonata in G minor which then reuses the same idea for an Allegretto grazioso finale. The sonata which follows (in E major) brings an engaging set of variations for its second movement (of two), and the final sonata of the first volume opens with a delightful Andante e con espressione, the longest movement on the whole disc.

The second volume opens with a winning two-movement Sonata in C, and the works which follow are inventively varied, but in much the same style. When we come to the third volume, we realize that Galuppi is not seeking to break any formal barriers or make harmonic explorations, but applies his ideas within straightforward musical frameworks. Yet the three-movement C major Sonata included here is really very fetching in its simplicity, and the G major and E flat major sonatas are also most appealing. **(*)