Sebastian de Albero - Six Recercatas, Fugues and Sonatas | Brilliant Classics 95187

Sebastian de Albero - Six Recercatas, Fugues and Sonatas


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Label: Brilliant Classics

Cat No: 95187

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 2

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 19th February 2016



If the name of Sebastian de Albero (or to give him his full title, Sebastián Ramón de Albero Añanos) is encountered at all in the record catalogues, it is for his 30 brief keyboard sonatas. They are stylish and exuberant works in the early 18th‐century Spanish style perfected by Domenico Scarlatti, with whom de Albero was likely acquainted while in post as the main organist at the Royal Chapel in Madrid, to which he had been appointed in 1746 at just 24 years of age. He died just ten years later, leaving to posterity only those sonatas and this more individual collection of tripartite works combining the forms of recercar, fugue and sonata. These have received much less attention on disc, making this complete recording by the Spanish harpsichordist Alejandro Casal all the more welcome.

In his own detailed booklet note, Casal homes in on the collection’s most extraordinary feature, which is the length of the fugues, up to 522 bars for the A major fugue (almost ten minutes in performance; in terms of duration, three others are even longer, up to thirteen minutes); compare this to Bach’s longest keyboard fugue, of 231 bars. It would be wild overstatement to compare de Albero with Bach in terms of contrapuntal mastery. Grove’s Dictionary notes the tendency of the fugues in this collection towards the ‘excessive sequences’ which sustain their length. They are nonetheless ‘fetching’, and preceded by highly imaginative recercars written in an improvisatory, often fantastical style, without barlines, freely crossing tonal boundaries whither de Albero’s invention takes him, and demanding considerable technical élan from the performer. Indeed the concluding sonatas, while written in a rousing major‐key to give the sense of an ending, could even be said to prefigure the bold Empfindsamkeit language of CPE Bach, but with a Spanish accent.

The harpsichord used on this recording is a copy of an original by Joachim José Antunes, Lisbon, kept at Finchcocks Musical Museum in Goudhurst, and built by Ugo Casiglia (Cinisi, Italy) in 2011: it is considered among the finest examples of Iberian keyboard‐construction, with a powerful, rich and melodic sound.

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