Alright, let’s get the title cleared up – the name of this album is À Portuguesa, but honestly? The subtitle (Iberian Concertos and Sonatas) is more accurate, since a solid proportion of the album is the music of Scarlatti and Boccherini, both of whom had almost nothing to do with Portugal. There are concerti by the Portuguese Baroque composer José António Carlos de Seixas included, but they’re outnumbered by the Scarlatti. If the title is fibbing, it’s forgivable for the quality of the performances. The Avison works are 18th-century ensemble re-jiggings of Scarlatti’s music. Here, Staier is in the continuo seat. The ensemble really shines on these transcriptions, finding a real naturalness in works never meant for this lineup.
Seixas’ music is the real find here. I hadn’t heard his music before this recording, but I’ll certainly be searching for more. They’re pieces that sit right on the dividing line between what we think of as Baroque and the later galant style. Staier’s harpsichord here is wonderfully spirited, and the orchestra respond in kind. It’s certainly hard to resist music played as crisply and as precisely as in the two Seixas concertos here.
Boccherini’s Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid is a classic, its twist being the last section depicting (very convincingly!) the movements of the Madrid night watch. An effective close to a highly enjoyable disc, even if it’s not quite what it says on the tin.
Composer: Scarlatti, Boccherini, Corbett, Seixas, Avison,
Composition: Concerto No. 7 “Alla Portugesa”, Harpsichord Concerto in G Minor, Keyboard Sonata K8 in G Minor, Keyboard Sonata K13 in G Major et al
Performer: Andreas Staier p, Orquestra Barroca Casa da Música et al
Catalogue Number: Harmonia Mundi HMM902337