During the first half of the 18th century, practically every European country had its own outstanding keyboard composers and the Iberian Peninsula was no exception. The three prime figures who dominated this kind of genre were Carlos Seixas (1704-1742), Padre Antonio Soler (1729-1783) and Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), an Italian who spent most of his life in the Portuguese Court, and who later moved on to Seville and Madrid.
These three composers were the backbone in the growth of the binary form Sonata in the Iberian Peninsula which dominated harpsichord music even more than the "tiento" in the previous 200 years. The latter wrote some 600 of the most imaginative pieces in this style, and for their ingenuity and invention they remained unparalleled for decades.
Thankfully Nimbus has already regaled us with the complete Scarlatti oeuvre over seven volumes and now the attention shifts on Seixas and Soler with this generously filled disc. Both men were strongly influenced by Scarlatti with whom they studied, but each had a special imprint which distinguished one from the other. Seixas was especially fond of the "galant' style, and his pieces were audaciously adventurous for their time. His music has charm and personality and very often, sheer virtuosity, qualities that established him as one of the leading lights in this specialized field.
Soler also favoured the "galant" style but his works were frequently punctuated by Spanish folk dance elements and Moorish rhythms which make them wholly fascinating and attractive. Mark Lester's crystalline touch, relaxed elegance in the "allegri' and gentle flexibility are totally ideal for the interpretation of such a fragile repertoire, and he once again comes up with the goods in a very convincing manner.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech