Classical CD Reviews

PLATTI: Sonatas for Harpsichord (18) – Filippo Emanuele Ravizza – Concerto (4 CDs)


Published on November 23, 2011

PLATTI: Sonatas for Harpsichord (18) – Filippo Emanuele Ravizza – Concerto (4 CDs)

GIOVANNI BENEDETTO PLATTI: Sonatas for Harpsichord (18) – Filippo Emanuele Ravizza, harpsichord – Concerto Classics Vol. 1 thru 4 – Concerto Classics CD Box 2011 (Vol. 1=1 hr 11:04, Vol. 2=1 hr 15:33, Vol. 3=1 hr 5:51, Vol. 4=1 hr :39) [Distr. by Naxos] ****1/2:

Platti was an important part of the 18th century musical world in Europe. He was attached to the court in Würzburg, Germany—working there as a composer, tenor, violinist, harpsichordist, cellist and teacher—and lived until 1763.  Some musicologists credit him with being the first composer to use the classical sonata form.  Even if he wasn’t, Platti did have a vital role in the transition from the Baroque to the Pre-Classic period. He used daring constructions which often showed the influence of German composers as well as Pergolesi and Marcello. His keyboard works may have been a major reference point for the early keyboard works of both Haydn and Mozart.

I had been expecting a tuneful but unfamiliar Italian composer’s work, with many of these four volumes of harpsichord sonatas sounding very similar, but instead was astonished by the originality, rhythmic interest and general liveliness of all of these sonatas. They have a similar sprightliness to Domenico Scarlatti’s harpsichord sonatas, but with much more complex compositional development.  Only five of the 18 are in minor keys. The first ones are in a straightforward setup of four short movements, with the later ones becoming more complex and having more movements. There is a great attention to texture and instrumental color, and a number of dense passages of rich harmonies, harking back to the concerti grossi of the Venetian School.

The recording quality is excellent, with 32-bit PCM original audio recording involved. I couldn’t find any notes on the harpsichord used, but it sounds very musical and unclangy. Hearing these exciting works made me want to obtain the music for some of those in the fourth volume to play myself.

—John Sunier




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