BLASCO DE NE­GRA Pi­ano Sonatas

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos - — James M. Keller

(Harmonia Mundi) Hardly a house­hold name, Manuel Blasco de Ne­bra (1750-1784) was a Seville-born priest, or­gan­ist, and com­poser who, in his brief ca­reer, pro­duced more than 170 com­po­si­tions. Only 30 sur­vive, each of them ei­ther two-move­ment sonatas or three-move­ment pa­s­tore­las for solo key­board. These in­trigu­ing works are ob­vi­ously de­scended from the fa­mous sonatas of Domenico Scar­latti, who died in Madrid seven years af­ter Blasco was born. Blasco, how­ever, was aware of where mu­sic’s path had led since Scar­latti’s hey­day, and his mu­sic sug­gests that he was par­tic­u­larly smitten by the hy­per­ex­pres­sive style of C.P.E. Bach. On this disc, Javier Pe­ri­anes, a young Span­ish pi­anist on the rise, in­fuses eight of Blasco’s works with a spirit of reverie that would have done Chopin proud. His­tor­i­cally in­formed per­for­mances these are not; for that, you might seek out fortepi­ano read­ings by Tony Mil­lán on the Al­ma­viva la­bel. Pe­ri­anes crafts each move­ment into a jewel. He draws tones of in­ef­fa­ble sweet­ness from his mod­ern con­cert grand, rein­ing in its po­ten­tial power to avoid “over­play­ing” these del­i­cate pieces. The more one lis­tens, the more sur­pris­ing these works seem in their meld­ing of quirk­i­ness with sen­ti­men­tal­ity, of bril­liance with lan­guor. This is a CD that is best en­joyed at night, when the lis­tener’s imag­i­na­tion is likely to be most ready to ab­sorb the in­ti­mate out­pour­ing Pe­ri­anes of­fers.

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