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Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Eighteen Sonatas

Sonata in E major K162
Sonata in E minor K198
Sonata in E major K380
Sonata in B minor K87
Sonata in G major K259
Sonata in C major K159
Sonata in F minor K466
Sonata in F minor K481
Sonata in E flat K135
Sonata in G major K146
Sonata in C minor K11
Sonata in D minor K1
Sonata in F minor K19
Sonata in G major K14
Sonata in A major K39
Sonata in B major K551
Sonata in D minor K9
Sonata in D minor K141
Joyce Hatto (piano)
Recorded in the Concert Artist Studios June and September 1997

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Times are good for Scarlatti. Recordings of the Sonatas are plentiful – at least of a percentage of the famously huge number Scarlatti produced – and there are surely approaches to suit all tastes, from harpsichord, to pianistic via piano performances that show timbral awareness of the works’ harpsichord origins. Delving back in the catalogue you can encounter a newly remastered Horowitz selection and go even further back and you can still find Marcelle Meyer’s outstanding late 1940s and 1950s set of a good number of sonatas. Into the lists advances Joyce Hatto who now seems to have recorded the entire piano literature for Concert Artist barring Billy Mayerl and some Fats Waller transcriptions – though I wouldn’t put even these past her.

For me she strikes a fine note between the extremes of rhythmic snap and pianistic indulgence. Her tempi are well sustained though in comparison with such as Meyer and Horowitz they are generally a notch or two down. In K380 with its famous ringing fanfares she flows elegantly with some delicious left hand fill-ins. The B minor K87 sees her keeping a firm grip on tempo; Marcelle Meyer is uncharacteristically quite a bit slower than Hatto and though Meyer mines the expressive contours more obviously, Hatto’s profile is quite apposite. With a more harpsichord based pianism such as Meyer provided one feels the tempi and accents feed off each other and such is certainly the case in K159 in C major where for all Hatto’s lacery, glinting trills and perky bass pointing Meyer’s more briskly accented playing still leads the way.

One thing I especially admire about Hatto is her ability to vest wistful depth without resorting either to distended tempi or tired romantic gestures (as in the F minor K466). And yet it’s salutary to note how the character of a sonata can change utterly given differing tempo and accenting considerations – such as the E major K162 where Horowitz’s greater speed turns it into a romantic idyll and Hatto finds in it a more stoical reflectiveness. And even with her little caesuri Hatto sustains the span of K481 in F minor with unselfconsciousness and crucially without a sense of dragging.

The sound in the Concert Artist studio is warm and it suits these performances that seem to belong to no particular school of Scarlatti playing but are, rather, the product of practical application and imagination.

Jonathan Woolf

See Full list of Concert Artist recordings

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