Anyone enthralled by the quixotic imagination of Domenico Scarlatti, as exhibited by his 555 keyboard sonatas, will want to hear these examples of the work by his almost unknown contemporary, Josep Gallés.
Biographical details are thin on the ground: he was born in Castellterçol in 1758 and at some point of his life became Maestro di cappella in the Cathedral of Vic near Barcelona, where he died in 1836. Little of his own music survives: just 23 keyboard Sonatas and some versos for organ.
In Scarlattian style, the sonatas are single-movement works in two parts except for No.4 in F minor which has a beautiful slow introduction. Gallés also employed many of the folkloristic tropes of Spanish music such as guitar-like arpeggios, alternations of major and minor, exotic scales, dance rhythms, use of syncopations and crossed hands. He was also partial to extravagant modulations and enharmonic movement between distant keys, a trait which the opening sonata of the collection seems designed to exhibit. Listening through the collection, it is possible to hear the chronological movement from Baroque to Classical style just as Gallés himself lived and worked through the transition (as it now seems to us).
Michele Benuzzi has made several well-received albums for Brilliant Classics of unfamiliar names from the period, including Christoph Nichelmann (BC94809) and Hans Leo Hässler. In recording the music of Gallés, as he remarks in his own booklet note, he particularly appreciates the expressivity of a style which is marked out from the superficiality of most of his contemporaries: his neglect hitherto seems all the more surprising, and worth correcting.
First recording of harpsichord sonatas by Josep Gallés.
Harpsichordist Michele Benuzzi found in the Bibioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona the manuscript of 23 keyboard sonatas by Spanish composer Josep Gallés (1758-1836). Gallés was a transitory composer gapping the bridge between Baroque and Classical, like Domenico Scarlatti, whose sonatas they clearly resemble.
The Sonatas are in one movement in binary form. His style took the heritage of Scarlatti using many of the folkloristic patterns of Spanish music such as guitar-like arpeggios, alternations of major and minor, exotic scales, dance rhythms, use of syncopations and crossed hands as well as the use of extravagant modulations and enharmonic passages.
A true find by Michele Benuzzi, who already presented newly discovered keyboard works by Nichelmann (BC94809) and Hässler (BC94293, “Excellent…one of the most interesting CD’s I have heard of late” Musicweb).