IBERIAN Concertos

Manuel Narro: Harpsichord Concerto (III.Allegro)


La Tempestad – Silvia Márquez

In February 2015, La Tempestad presented in the “Universo Barroco” cicle of the Auditorio Nacional de Madrid a revival, in modern times and with historically informed performance, of M. Narro’s Concerto for harpsichord and G. B. Pergolesi’s Concerto for two harpsichords. Completing the programme were some sonatas for the examinations for the Royal Chapel in Madrid, edited by Judith Ortega, who at the time reminded us about the existence of another Hispanic concerto for harpsichord: the one by José Palomino. While Narro’s concerto received warm praise, Pergolesi’s piece turned out to be the surprise of the night, as said by both audience and critics. Knowing the quality of the music, we also felt the need to show and defend a language which was very different from that of the harpsichord concerts by Bach, Haendel or their peers.




From the brightness of the early Italian virtuosity – which shared so many ties with Spain and Portugal – to 18th century popular dance, the colour of the south, the echoes of the strummed guitar or the influence of Scarlatti’s writing, everything adds up to these concertos which are fresh, nonchalant and crisp. We therefore decided to record them. As far as we know, this is the first ever CD recording of the concertos by Narro and Pergolesi, as well as the first recording on the harpsichord of Palomino’s concerto.

The keyboard concert is a fortunate 18th-century occurrence, since in this century composers gradually discovered the astonishing harmonic and polyphonic power of these instruments, beyond their support function as basso continuo. J. S. Bach’s fifth Brandenburg Concert (1720s), the following BWV 1052-1065, Georg Friedrich Haendel’s organ concerts (1738) and Thomas Arne’s for harpsichord, organ or forte e piano (1751), are all representative examples of a genre which reached its peak in the second half of the century. For Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the keyboard concert was a constant feature throughout his life, since he started writing the first ones in 1733 until the Concert in E flat major, Wq. 47 for harpsichord and fortepiano (1788). Within the Iberian Peninsula, the Concert in A major by Portuguese composer Carlos Seixas (1704-1742) and another in G minor, attributed to the same author, are early and isolated cases. Later in the century, several works stand out: Luigi Boccherini’s Quintetti, op. 56 and 57 – he arrived in Spain in 1768 – and Antonio Soler’s Seis quintetos para instrumentos de arco y órgano o clave obligado, written in 1776.