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Carlos Seixas - Sonata nº 9, harpsichord, E major - 3/3 - Allegro assai (Rui Paiva)

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Published on Jan 23, 2010

CARLOS SEIXAS (1704-1742)
Sonata nº 9, harpsichord, E major (3/3)
3 - Allegro assai
(Rui Paiva)
Harpsichord Built by Joaquim José Antunes, 1758

The Harpsichord Antunes
Built in Lisbon, its a typical instrument of Portuguese construction from the 18th century, with a single keyboard, two independent 8 foot registers sound board in pine, quite short key levers, the box also in pine with the interiors sides vencered with Brazilian wood and strung entirely in brass.
These mechanical and acoustic characteristics, allow a light and detailed playing and result in a ample and warm sound, with subtly distinguishable timbral qualities in the low middle and high registers of the keyboard (53 notes, from C to e). The instrument is particularly appropriate for Seixas keyboard writing, usually with transparent textures, rarely in more than two parts, frequently contrasting melody and simple accompanying material.

Short Biography
José António Carlos de Seixas was born in the parish of São Cristóvão (St. Christopher) in the city of Coimbra on 11 June 1704, the son of the Cathedral organist, Francisco Vaz, and Marcelina Nunes, and was baptized on the 10 July of the same year. He was appointed organist of Coimbra Cathedral on 9 February 1718 to replace his father between 1720 and 1722 Carlos Seixas moved to Lisbon, initially teaching the harpsichord at Court and subsequently becoming an organist at the Patriarchal Church. On 30 June 1733 he was appointed to the rank of Captain in the Company of Ordinances of the Palace, under the command of the Viscount of Barcelona. Resident in the parish of São Nicolau (St. Nicholas) in Lisbon, he Married Maria Joana Tomásia da Silva on 8 December 1731 and had two sons and three daughters by her. With a view to rising to the nobility, on 21 May 1738 he purchased the office of paymaster of the Order of Santiago, gaining the habit of Christ on 12 November that year, after undergoing a lengthy process of qualification, the earliest reference to which is 16 April 1728. Carlos Seixas died in Lisbon on 25 August 1742 at his home behind the Church of Saint Anthony and was buried in the charnel-house of the Irmandade do Santíssimo Sacramento (Brotherhood of the Most Sacred Sacrament) of Basilical of Saint Mary (the present Cathedral).

Unlike his contemporaries Francisco António de Almeida (1702-?), António Teixeira (1707-?) and João Rodrigues Esteves (fl.1719-1751), who studied at Rome as scholars of the Crown between 1716 or 1717 and 1728, Carlos Seixas seems never to have left Portugal and must have been trained in the school of his father, heir to the 17th-century Iberian organ tradition, familiar from the tentos of Rodrigues Coelho and Correa de Arauxo, of Cabanilles, Aguilera de Herdedia and Pedro de Araújo. He had a considerable reputation as a performer, with regard to which José Mazza, around 1780, tells the following anecdote: The Most Serene Prince Antonio wanted the great Escarlate [Domenico Scarlatti], for he was at the time to be found in Lisbon [as chapelmaster to the Portuguese Royal Chapel between December 1719 and January 1727] to give him [Seixas] a lesson, governed by the erroneous idea that however hard the Portuguese try, they never manage to do what the foreign are able to accomplish, and sent him to the aforementioned; who only saw him put his fingers on the harpsichord, and recognizing the giant by his fingers, said to him. You could give me a lesson or two; and on seeing the Prince, said to him, Your highness sent him for me to assess, yet you should know that that man is one of the greatest exponents I have ever heard.

Carlos Seixas Works
Ten Masses in four and eight parts with various instruments. A Te Deum laudamus for four choirs, to be sung on the last day of the year at the Church of São Roque. Seven hundred toccatas for harpsichord. Various motets in two, three and four parts, some with instruments, some without. But the output of keyboard and chamber music that has come down to us includes only a hundred and five authenticated sonatas, thought in recent times a further twenty-seven have been attributed to him. The sonatas, in particular, are of rather uneven quality, presumably a consequence of the players with varying degrees of competence, from the amateur beginner to the consummate virtuoso), as much as the nature of the surviving sources all of them copies made after the composers dead and the precariousness of the means of transmission that they suggest. A further fourteen sacred works by Seixas survive (three of them being attributions and two incomplete), as do an Ouverture in D major for string orchestra. Another Concerto for harpsichord and strings, this time in G minor, preserved in a manuscript at the Biblioteca Geral of Coimbra University, thought anonymous in the source, has been ascribed tentatively to Seixas.
(Excerpts from text of João Pedro D'Alvarenga - translation: David Cranmer)

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