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David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2013

This third disc of Antonio Soler’s complete keyboard sonatas brings to the Naxos label Denis Zhdanov, the 2010 winner of the Maria Canals Music Competition. The sonatas were composed while Soler was in the service of Charles III and may well have been teaching pieces for his two sons. He would have had the choice of harpsichords, clavichords, organ and the early pianoforte at the court, though the bulk of his massive output of sonatas were obviously intended for a newly acquired five octave harpsichord of 1761. Today we often find piano performances, and though it changes the texture of the original, it offers them to a much wider performance, and here they are played by the winner of Barcelona’s influential piano competition. The disc’s notes leaves us to guess as to his nationality and his musical education, but he has obviously enjoyed some success on the concert stage. He treats the sonatas in purely piano terms, and makes use of pedals that allow the type of dynamic range not available to those earlier instruments. Still his playing has a crispness that takes his performances some way towards a period understanding and quality. Like most modern pianists he tends to generate excitement by speeding up closing moments, but he is technically well equipped as is evident in the fast sonatas. For those who want to return to Soler’s original intentions, Naxos also offer the alternative of scholarly and superbly played performances from Gilbert Rowland. The sound on this new disc is superb. © David’s Review Corner





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