Harpsichordist Anna Paradiso has been recording for BIS for a while now, but this is her first recording of the music of Pietro Domenico Paradisi. A little surprising, given how well their names match up, but there you go. While Paradisi’s not the most well-known composer these days, back in the second half of the 18th century he was championed by Leopold Mozart, Clementi, and Cramer.

Anna Paradiso plays Paradisi

Paradisi’s music is in the super-theatrical galant style, and boy-oh-boy does Paradiso highlight it. Although the harpsichord is limited in its ability to change dynamics, Paradiso nimbly alters phrases, tempos, and rhythms to keep the listener guessing in the various harpsichord sonatas. There are yet more colours to hear, though, since she takes a surprising route and plays some of the sonatas on both clavichord and fortepiano. So simple, but it really does enliven the whole release up – hearing the ways that both the instruments and Paradiso’s performances shift across the album is fascinating. The appearance of the resonant fortepiano Sonata No 6, for instance, comes as a complete surprise after a few tracks of harpsichord pieces, and to follow that soon after with the short, spiky clavichord is inspired.

A side-note for audio geeks: this CD is one of very, very few I’ve seen that sails over the usual 79-minute limit, clocking in at an impressive 88 minutes, complete with cautionary words about how to actually listen to the last few tracks. Still, despite the daunting length, this is a release of rare range and variety, with not a dull moment to be seen. Highly recommended.

Paradiso plays Paradisi
Music by:
Pietro Domenico Paradisi
Performer: Anna Paradiso hpscd, fp
Label: BIS BIS2415