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Leroy proves a veritable indeed provokes countless sighs of pleasure, but there are also numerous passages that inspire well-earned gasps of awe. Leroy’s touch, confounding lingering notions that the harpsichord is an anemic instrument unsuited to solo recitals. Leroy plays Sonatas in the G and D Dorian modes (Nos.
As the appellation by which he is known to many musicians and listeners suggests, Padre Soler pursued an ecclesiastical lifestyle from an early age, entering the famed choir school—the Escolania—of the Benedictine abbey of Santa María de Montserrat at the age of six. Unlike many of his colleagues who have recorded Soler’s Harpsichord Sonatas, Mr. 16 and 11, respectively), which in their use of scales pitched a whole tone higher than their adjacent keys [i.e.
Leroy’s performances of sixteen of the composer’s thirty known Harpsichord Sonatas to be a circumstance of impersonal fate rather than an indication of the quality of the music. Only the keyboardist who is certain of his fingers’ adroitness is liberated to engage his senses as palpably as his hands in music as challenging as that of Albero’s Sonatas.
Like Soler, the Church was the center of Albero’s musical life, his formative years as a chorister in Pamplona’s Catedral de Santa María la Real preparing him for his later engagement as principal organist in the Chapel Royal in Madrid. Designating an artist a ‘thinking man’s musician’ has become clichéd, but with his playing of Albero’s music, which has never been delivered more majestically on disc, Mr. is a perfect recording for those listeners who cling to their misconceptions of the harpsichord as an instrument for quaint music and players in periwigs. Most significantly, is an unsurpassed performance of the music of two gifted composers heretofore underserved on disc and, for listeners who have not yet encountered his playing, an outstanding introduction to the work of a resplendently percipient artist.
to order this recording] One of the most persistent quandaries in Classical Music—and, indeed, one that unites this glorious art with popular music and virtually all aspects of universal humanity—is the disheartening way in which fools and sycophants rise to prominence while deserving, genuinely gifted artists struggle in pursuit of elusive recognition.
The evolution of the Classical recording industry and the technologically-actuated increase in fellowship among music lovers that should foster an environment in which artists of quality can enjoy exposure equal to their merits have, in fact, facilitated an opposite reality: the voices that are most heard are those that are amplified by garish hype and reputations little reliant upon musical values.
Quietly, French-born harpsichordist and organist Philippe Leroy has attained and shared with those fortunate enough to have heard him play mastery of his chosen instruments that far exceeds the accomplishments of many of the most renowned exponents of historically-appropriate keyboard playing.
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Listeners for whom the harpsichord summons reluctant thoughts of dainty sounds and endless stretches of recitative must be forewarned, however: the playing on these discs, recorded in minimal takes with only a pair of microphones and no editing or tweaking of monitors, is as robust as any pianist’s performances of Beethoven or Brahms Piano Sonatas. Leroy plays them with technical panache that draws sounds of extraordinary vitality from the wonderful Anthony Sidey harpsichord, a copy of a 1735 instrument from the German school of Gottfried Silbermann.
It is the style of the music and not the integrity of the music-making that differs, of course, and in his playing of these sonatas for harpsichord Mr. Prepared for this recording by its maker using a typical 18th-Century unequal temperament with a = 415 Hz, the instrument responds with full-bodied tones to Mr.
During his tenure at the Royal Court, Albero enjoyed proximity to Domenico Scarlatti, by whose harpsichord music Albero’s was ultimately overshadowed, but it is significant that, when he left Spain after the death of Fernando VI in 1759, the great Farinelli—a far more insightful musician than many of his fellow —took many Albero scores with him to Bologna. Leroy again chose and grouped Sonatas in a manner that emphasizes tonal relationships and thematic development. The inquisitive spirit of the Baroque Revival has thus far only skimmed the surface of Spanish repertoire of the 17th and 18th Centuries, but this recording intoxicatingly tills the fertile fields of Padre Soler’s and Sebastián Albero’s Harpsichord Sonatas.