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David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2009

This is the second of three discs containing the complete existing keyboard music of the Spanish composer, Manuel Blasco de Nebra, a name now long forgotten. In time scale he was a direct contemporary to Mozart, but in my August review of the first volume I pointed to the lack of an intimate knowledge of a life that had started out in 1750. He received musical education from his father and uncle, and became known as an organist and keyboard virtuoso. Probably writing extensively throughout, only 26 of his keyboard sonatas have been discovered, and whether he heard any of the music of his national compatriot, Soler, is unknown, but they certainly employed a similar style. This new release continues from the first disc the group of sonatas found in manuscript at Montserrat Abbey, and adds three that are held in the United States at Washington’s Library of Congress Archive. I would hesitate in making any claims for his high standing in the history of music, but I am pleased to make the acquaintance of such amiable music, and, as in the Ninth sonata from Montserrat, he does find a catchy tune and rhythm to remind one of Domenico Scarlatti. The ones from Washington are his last known sonatas, and you feel an extra sense of gravity in his writing. I was thinking throughout how much better they would have sounded on the harpsichord, an instrument they cry out for, yet that would be showing ingratitude to the pianist, Pedro Casals, who has done so much to return the music into the public domain. Most tracks are world première recordings.

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