Johann Wilhelm Hässler was a great and famous keyboard virtuoso in the second half of the 18th century. His style forms a bridge between the Baroque and the early Classical era, a period of “Sturm und Drang”, highly virtuosic and extravagant in its expression of feelings and character. Harpsichordist Michele Benuzzi undertook thorough research into this music, some of which was formerly attributed to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, before he prepared the present edition, as well as writing the extremely informative liner notes. Played on a magnificent historic 18th century instrument from the Russell Collection in Edinburgh. New Premiere Recording.
Baroque powerhouse Domenico Scarlatti – son of the great Alessandro Scarlatti and born in 1685, the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Friderich Handel – wrote an enormous 555 keyboard sonatas. These were mostly to be performed on the harpsichord, although several sources suggest that he may have also written some for the fortepiano at the Spanish court, where he was employed from 1733. The universal appeal of these sonatas – containing Scarlatti’s trademark influence of Iberian folk music and dances – is such that they have been pushed beyond the boundaries of the intended instrument, and thus the recording also boasts performances of selected sonatas on the harp and accordion, bringing these wonderful sonatas into the 21st century.
Between 1990 and 2000 Ilario Gregoletto recorded four CDs of harpsichord sonatas by Baldassare Galuppi (1706-85) for the small Italian label Rivoalto. Newton Classics now reissues the discs together as a budget-priced set. The booklet notes are not completely clear in regard to the sonatas’ numbering, apart from mention of cataloging systems by Hedda Illy and Fausto Torrefranca. In any event, all but one of these 25 sonatas follow a three-movement scheme, and each is marvelously varied in mood and texture.
Towards the end of his life, Johann Sebastian Bach made a second collection of concertos, these for keyboard. Around 1738 he put this together, possibly as a way of publicizing his work with the Leipzig Collegium , or possibly with an eye towards publishing them. The six works are all somewhat eclectic since they seem to have been transcriptions of works for other instruments, as the informative booklet notes by soloist Aapo Häkkinen state. There are other sources in the Bach archives, so how he put them together can more or less be traced, and in recording these, Häkkinen and his Helsinki Baroque Orchestra have decided that they would be split into two volumes.
Alexei Lubimov is a Russian pianist who also plays fortepiano and harpsichord. In his early years he studied at the Moscow Central Music School, and in 1963, entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied with Heinrich Neuhaus and Lew Naumov. He developed a strong interest in Baroque music and 20th century modernist works. Lubimov gave the Soviet premieres of many western compositions, including pieces by Charles Ives, Arnold Schoenberg, John Cage, Terry Riley, Pierre Boulez, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, which brought censorship from the Soviet authorities. For a number of years he was prevented from traveling outside the Soviet Union. Turning to his interest in period instruments and authentic performance practices, he founded the Moscow Baroque Quartet and co-founded the Moscow Chamber Academy with Tatiana Grindenko.