One of the most important Swedish composers in the Baroque era was Johan Helmich Roman, though today his works are quite obscure, even in his native country. Yet his music is undergoing a small revival, thanks to Anna Paradiso, who has been recording his keyboard sonatas and chamber music on the BIS label. This hybrid SACD is a continuation of her project to record the 12 sonatas, this time offering the last five of the series in performances employing three different instruments. To show the variety of colors and moods in Roman's music, Paradiso plays modern reproductions of a Neapolitan harpsichord (Sonatas Nos. 7 and 12), a French harpsichord (Sonata No. 9), and a clavichord (Sonatas 10 and 11), each offering distinctive sonorities. Newcomers to Roman's sonatas may well note some similarities to the harpsichord music of Domenico Scarlatti and Antonio Soler, though his sonatas were composed in multiple sections that anticipate the varied movements of the sonata form in the Classical period. However, Roman's chief influences were the keyboard works of George Frederick Handel and Neapolitan vocal music, so his style is quite ornate and quirky in its sudden changes of rhythm and melodic patterns. To this, Paradiso adds her own personal touches of rubato and embellishment, very much in the style of the time. Rounding out the album is the Sonata No. 2 in C major by Johan Joachim Agrell, a north German composer and Roman's younger contemporary. BIS' recording is clean and crisp, and every note is audible in the multichannel recording.
J.H. Roman: The 12 Keyboard Sonatas, Nos. 8-12 Review
by Blair Sanderson