Luigi Accardo harpsichord
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Santo Lapis (c.1699-1765) led a much-travelled life, from his birthplace in Bologna via Venice, Vienna and the Netherlands to England in 1757, also taking in Scotland and Ireland during the 1760s. He seems to have been something of a libertine and a jobbing musician who carried on a successful freelance career, particularly in opera production. Not much of his music survives but the sonatas on this recording were published in The Hague in 1742, while the extended three-movement La Stravaganza followed in 1757. The sonatas follow the bipartite Scarlattian model and, while lacking the inspiration of their models, they are nevertheless entertaining pieces, with some quirky corners and pleasing melodies. The middle movement of La Stravaganza is a Handelian fugue which works very well; the finale of that work, on the other hand, is a rather dull Menuet with variations, which might have come more alive here with a faster tempo. Lapis does rely a lot on sequential figuration, presenting a challenge to the performer to keep the music fresh. Accardo responds well to this challenge and plays with commitment and sparkle, and a flexibility that just occasionally slips into unevenness in the rhythm. He plays on a copy of an anonymous early 18th-century German harpsichord by Keith Hill. The recording is certainly worth listening to as an evocation of the sort of Italian-style music heard all over Europe in the mid-18th century.