Paradies was one of the most successful harpsichord teachers of the mid-1700s. He was born in Naples in 1707 and was probably a pupil of Nicolai Porpora, one of the teachers of Haydn. Paradies emigrated to London in 1746. He returned to Italy in 1770 and died in 1791.
Paradies became famous for his twelve sonatas for cembalo, published in 1754. The manuscripts are lost, and modern editions tends to be based on the John Johnson first edition. The edition I use is published by Scott (2 vols: 1-6 and 6-12, ed. nos. 6120 and 6121), edited by Hugo Ruf and Hans Bermann.
These pieces are graceful and of high quality. They sound good on the piano. The well-known one is in A major, no. 6, the second movement of which has been reissued many times on its own as "Toccata in A". It's this piece which uses the figuration for which Paradies is famous - an ascending semiquaver cluster, accompanied by a solid, well-structered bass. Note that in Sonata 6, the first sixteen notes of the right hand (and of course the accompanying bass) should be played TWICE, otherwise the movement doesn't seem properly balanced. This has been noticed by numerous editors.
Which are the best sonatas? This is highly subjective, but I recommend starting with no. 6, which means getting volume 1 first. Many of the sonatas contain the "Paradies cluster", and the ones which have a movement based on it are generally better than the ones which don't. In addition to sonata 6, nos. 8 and 10 have movements of this type, in E minor and D minor.
One other point worth mentioning is Paradies' craftsmanship. Many composers don't finish their works off properly - for example, Jiri Benda, Leopold Kozeluch, Christoph Wagenseil. This sometimes results in a cadence sounding anaemic, or a scale run not being worked out properly, or a chord being badly spaced, or unmusical cross-hands work being introduced. Paradies is not like this. Apart from the alteration mentioned above (which is one of balance) I have not been tempted to alter a single note of Paradies' work. He paid meticulous attention to detail.
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
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