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Carl Bauman
American Record Guide, January 2010

The notes with this disc tell us that it is the first of three that will give us all of the 26 sonatas that have survived from Manuel Blasco de Nebra’s (1750–84) 170 works. (Six pastorellas also survive.) We are told that eventually he wrote in full-fledged forms, but these works are in only one or two movements and are quite rudimentary. The shortest lasts less than two minutes, and the longest 10:30. Five of these are first recordings. These simple works are rather boring. Perhaps his later sonatas will be more interesting.

Pianist Pedro Casals seems to play well. His doctoral studies were on this composer at Madrid University. His recording is clear but rather bass deficient. The notes are by the pianist and seem thorough.

I had never heard of this composer before. He lived much of his short life in Seville, except for a period in his late teens when he became famous in Madrid as a harpsichordist, organist, and pianist.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, August 2009

An obscure composer is unearthed here, in the first of a projected three-volume set of the complete sonatas by this Spanish contemporary of Mozart, who lived for only 34 years. The music in the first volume was apparently never published and survived in manuscript form in various abbeys and monasteries. The one-movement, short and fast-paced sonatas sound a lot like Scarlatti, though with a distinct Spanish flavour. The second set is in adagio-allegro form, more developed and allowing the artist more expressional opportunities. Pedro Casals (no relation, apparently) is an award-winning pianist who will obviously be up to the challenges of de Nebra’s later works.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2009

Though limited in our knowledge of Manuel Blasco de Nebra, it seems that in his short life he held positions of high regard within the church of his native Seville. Born into a musical family in 1750, it was his father and uncle who were responsible for his teaching, and in addition to his subsequent work as an organist, he was equally known as a keyboard virtuoso. It is conjecture that he may have composed 170 scores in that genre, though only 26 keyboard sonatas have been discovered. It is not thought that he travelled widely, the only ready connection coming from the music of Soler who just predated him. Certainly in form there is much similarity, though the younger man could not find the same level of melodic inspiration. Many of the sonatas on this disc were written in one short movement, and much in the fast tempo indication of Allegro. As a short sampling point go to the vivacious track 8, and continue into the following track, the disc’s first acquaintance with the composer in slow mood where decoration is the key ingredient. These five two-movement works were discovered in manuscript form at Montserrat Abbey and prove the valuable part of the disc, showing his skill in contrasting music at a different pulse. The young Spanish pianist, Padro Casals, the winner of a catalogue of prizes, is a most nimble and clean fingered soloist. I would have ideally liked them played on the harpsichord, but the recording brings a welcome period sound. Mostly making their disc premiere, and a pleasant discovery.

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