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Penguin Guide, January 2009

The Catalan composer Padre Antonio Soler was a monk who spent most of his life at the Escorial, a famous monastery near Madrid. There his duties included choir master, the provision of choral music for services and the writing of secular music for the royal family (who often visited the monastery). Yet he found time to composer 150 keyboard Sonatas (he apparently managed to survive on four hours’ sleep each night, rising in time for early morning Mass). Between 1752 and 1757 he is reputed to have studied with Domenico Scarlatti, and most of his own sonatas show this influence. They are single-movement works in binary form (two sections), often exuberant, bravura pieces, some with dance rhythms; others are slow movements (some of these extended and marked cantabile and expressive). But he also wrote more ambitious sonatas. Nos. 63 in F and 67 in D (in Volume 12) are three-movement works, each beginning with a slow movement, and are part of a group of six Sonatas dating 1777, while Nos 97-9 are part of a group of three Sonatas in four movements (Op. 8) written in 1783. The variety of Soler’s invention is remarkable, sometimes drawing on local on local folk themes. The outstanding Scottish keyboard player Gilbert Rowland has recorded this repertoire over a long period, beginning in the late 1990s and concluding in 2005, playing with great vitality and variety of characterization, bringing every sonata fully to life. He is truthfully recorded, in a perfect acoustic, and you can dip into any one of these 13 discs (all available separately ) and be sure of receiving musical refreshment . We have now spent some time with these works. The Rosette is not just for the fine music and splendid playing, but also for Rowland’s remarkable enterprise and achievements.

American Record Guide, December 1996

"The instrument ... is perfect. Sound is full-bodied, the price unbeatable."

Early Music Review, September 1996

"Gilbert Rowland's playing...can be both brilliant and expressive, with nicely formed trills which end firmly and under rhythmic control."

Classic CD, September 1996

"Volume One of Gilbert Rowland's survey of Soler's harpsichord sonatas gets off to a good start with this splendid disc of 11 of them. Rowland is the most reliable of guides and he also maintains the Naxos tradition of supplying superb quality notes, a practice that some companies would do well to copy. Good value."


"His performances are of high quality"

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