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GRAMOPHONE (03/2016)
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Reviewer: Harriet Smith  


If he’s best remembered these days for his choral music, written in South America as a pungently effective secret weapon in his work as a Jesuit missionary, his keyboard music dates from the earlier part of his life. Zipoli’s Op 1 – titled Sonate d’intavolatura per organo e cimbalo – was published in Rome in 1716; Part 1 is for organ, while Part 2, to which this disc is devoted, consists of four suites and two partitas for harpsichord.


That Zipoli can be translated from old to new keyboard instrument is triumphantly demonstrated in this premiere recording by his countryman Giovanni Nesi. He’s not shy about taking possession of the music, applying ornamentation judiciously and, in a movement such as the haunting Allemanda of the D minor Suite, imbuing it with rich sonority and poetic freedom that wouldn’t be possible on a harpsichord. Nesi’s enthusiasm for the music shines through at every point, particularly in movements such as the high-spirited Giga that closes the C minor Suite and the Corrente of the B minor Suite. A minor caveat is that sarabandes are sometimes on the slow side, that of the C major Suite being a case in point.


The two extended Partitas are particularly fine works and, in both, Nesi builds through them to thrilling effect. The acoustic is a little over-reverberant, but don’t let that put you off exploring an intriguing disc.


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