During his all-too-brief life, the Andalusian composer Manuel Blasco de Nebra (1750-1784) left behind a handful of keyboard works that evoke Scarlatti's concise forms and extraordinary powers of invention. Each of the sonatas consists of two movements: an adagio followed by a fast finale. The adagios are stark and full of gut-wrenching, slowly resolving dissonant moments, while unpredictable twists and turns characterize the almost Haydn-esque Allegros and Prestos, as well as the E minor Pastorela Minuet's discursive melodic trajectory. At times Blasco de Nebra foreshadows future soulmates; you might mistake the Op. 1 C minor sonata finale's persistent dotted rhythms for Schumann's. Javier Perianes understands what makes de Nebra tick, borne out by his varied articulations, wide dynamic spectrum, and shapely embellishments.
Guiomar Novaes' life story has been the stuff of legend in the classical world for decades and this CD is clear evidence why none other than Claude Debussy himself helped single her out for greatness as a teenage prodigy. Recorded when she was in her 50's, she's absolutely stupendous, pulling off difficult passage after passage with fabulous effortlessness, her trademark. But forget the 'feminine piano' tag that has been given to her at times, this CD shows she can bring on the 'thunder and lightning' whenever necessary. Thanks to Vox Box Legends for this magnificent digitally mastered 2 CD set, the wonderful sound, and very detailed, extensive liner notes that put most other liner notes to shame.