V 13: Complete Keyboard Sonata
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Domenico Scarlatti is renowned for his remarkable keyboard sonatas, some 555 of which are known. Written for performance on the various keyboard instruments of the Spanish court where he was employed for many years, they have long provided a valuable repe
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I have a hunch that Ms Huang is by nature better suited to the big Romantic works and I note on her agent's website that she has played the Rachmaninoff Second Concerto with the Detroit Symphony. Now THAT I would have wanted to hear.
The 16 sonatas on this CD are a varied group, and Huang's performance sparkles. The program is weighted towards earlier works with 9 sonatas having numbers in the Kirkpatrick listing of under 200. Scarlatti's early sonatas tend to be virtuosic in character with flamboyant runs, shifting rhythms, wide intervals, and extensive passages of hand crossings. Huang performs with clarity and verve. The CD also includes several minor key works of a reflective character and some longer sonatas. Huang's playing was thoughtful andexpressive. Huang is sensitive to the quicksilver idiosyncratic character of Scarlatti's writing. She gives a good deal of attention to changes in dynamics, rhthym and tempo. I envied her smooth playing of running thirds, octaves, and sixths. Her ornamentation of Scarlatti's scores tends to be free and effective.
A highlight of Huang's performance is the sonata in D major, K. 491, a well-known work which appears in Ralph Kirkpatrick's popular two-volume edition of 60 Scarlatti sonatas. This is a large-scale sonata which opens with three ornamented notes in the right hand echoed immediately in the left hand. The music moves easily through a succession of sixths with octave accompaniments until it reaches a long, pregnant pause. It then proceeds with long smooth passages of running 16th notes working towards a conclusion in beautifully-played thirds. In the second part of the piece, Scarlatti varies his material but continues to emphasize repeated notes and rhythms, sudden pauses, and the runs in sixths and thirds. This is a grand sonata. Listening to Huang play the piece made me want to try to study and learn it myself.
Other works I enjoyed on this CD include the virtuosic sonata in E major, K. 28, with its extensive passages of hand crossing and irresistible passages of little filigree runs. This sonata also appears in the Kirkpatrick edition. The sonatas in F major, K. 205 and in D major, K. 534 are both lilting, flowing works. The sonata in e minor, K. 232, the longest piece included on this CD, is a slow, poignant and reflective work. Huang captured the pathos of the music and her performance held my attention throughout.
Huang's CD is an excellent addtion to the Naxos series. Listenders wanting to take the time to explore Scarlatti one CD at a time will enjoy this onging survey of Scarlatti on the piano.