Alessandra Celletti is best known as a composer of highly original electronic music that utilizes piano and evinces a strong grounding in traditional classical music. She has also contributed some of her skills as keyboardist to interpreting composers such as Scott Joplin and Erik Satie. On Transparency's Alessandra Celletti Plays Baldassarre Galuppi, Celletti devotes a disc to the unfairly neglected keyboard sonatas of Baldassare Galuppi, a major figure in 18th century Italian music usually associated with opera. Although relatively little instrumental music survives from Galuppi, especially in comparison to the wealth of opera and oratorio that he left behind, Galuppi's productivity in the realm of the keyboard sonata is astonishing; although the final number remains a matter of debate, he composed at least 90 of them and may have produced more than 100, all told. Galuppi's sonatas belong to the last two decades of his life and utilize a variety of strategies; many use the binary form favored by Galuppi's predecessor Domenico Scarlatti, still others utilize a more modern three-movement division. The combination of fast and slow movements seems to have been a completely fluid option so far as Galuppi was concerned.
The majority of Galuppi's keyboard music was intended for the fortepiano rather than the harpsichord, and Celletti opts to perform this program of six sonatas on a modern Steinway concert grand. The recording, produced by Daniela Bombelli, is miked very closely and is a tad bright, but has the virtue of being very loud and present, a quality not always found on classical recordings. Celletti's approach to this music is a little like Glenn Gould's: very sensitive, restrained, and expressive in slower movements; even, direct, and crisp in the Allegros. Both minor-key sonatas are standouts, with Celletti showing a special affinity for the Allegro movement that concludes the disc; the "Variazioni" in the E major sonata is beautifully delivered. While some may not approve of Celletti's choice of instrument as being period appropriate, the playing is sheer poetry. For those who feel something was lost when the keyboard music of the 18th century became segregated to historical instruments, Transparency's Alessandra Celletti Plays Baldassarre Galuppi will prove highly satisfactory, as it will to anyone else who loves moody, emotionally responsive piano music.