> SCARLATTI Sonatas Belder: Brilliant 99740 [KM]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Complete Keyboard Sonatas Vol. 1 [182.54]
"Essercizi per gravicembalo" (London, 1738)
Sonatas Kirkpatrick 1-48
1. K 1 in D minor: allegro   2’29
2. K 2 in G major: presto   2’26
3. K 3 in A minor: presto   3’02
4. K 4 in G minor: allegro   3’33
5. K 5 in D minor: allegro   3’01
6. K 6 in F major: allegro   3’06
7. K 7 in A minor: presto   4’54
8. K 8 in G minor: allegro   3’59
9. K 9 in D minor: allegro   3’23
10. K 10 in D minor: presto   2’43
11. K 11 in D minor: (-)   2’38
12. K 12 in G minor: presto   3’45
13. K 13 in G major: presto   4’35
14. K 14 in G major: presto   2’56
15. K 15 in E minor: allegro   3’33
16. K 16 in B flat major: presto   5’25
17. K 17 in F major: presto   4’41
Total Time: 60’11
1. K 18 in D minor: presto   3’42
2. K 19 in F minor: allegro   3’56
3. K 20 in E major: presto   3’37
4. K 21 in D major: allegro   5’18
5. K 22 in C minor: allegro   3’23
6. K 23 in D major: allegro   5’41
7. K 24 in A major: presto   5’31
8. K 25 in F sharp minor: allegro   3’38
9. K 26 in A major: presto   4’32
10. K 27 in B minor: allegro   3’55
11. K 28 in E major: presto   4’12
12. K 29 in D major: presto   6’22
13. K 30 in G minor: fuga, moderato 4’46
Total Time: 58’35
CD 3
1. K 31 in G minor: allegro   4’53
2. K 32 in D minor: Aria   1’37
3. K 33 in D major: (-)   4’13
4. K 34 in D minor: larghetto   2’07
5. K 35 in G minor: allegro   3’07
6. K 36 in A minor: allegro   2’59
7. K 37 in C minor: allegro   4’21
8. K 38 in F major: allegro   2’34
9. K 39 in A major: presto   3’42
10. K 40 in C minor: Minuetto, moderato   1’14
11. K 41 in D minor: andante moderato   4’46
12. K 42 in B flat major: Minuetto   1’11
13. K 43 in G minor: allegro assai   2’56
14. K 44 in F major: allegro   5’35
15. K 45 in D major: allegro   3’37
16. K 46 in E major: presto   5’43
17. K 47 in B flat major: presto   5’21
18. K 48 in C minor: presto   4’04
Total Time: 64’08  
Pieter-Jan Belder, harpsichord
Rec: Autumn 2000, Remonstrantse Kerk Deventer.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99740 [182.54] Superbudget

Domenico Scarlatti, who was roughly a contemporary of Bach and Haendel, was born in Naples, and, around age 35, moved to Portugal, where he went to teach harpsichord to Princess Maria Barbara. When she married the future king of Spain in 1729, he went with her to Spain, where he lived the rest of his life. While he may have written some of his harpsichord sonatas in Italy, it is likely that most of them were written in this later part of his life. The son of the famous composer Alessandro Scarlatti, his church music, written during the first part of his life, is largely unmemorable. But, something happened to Domenico when he left his native Italy - perhaps it was because he was no longer in the shadow of his father, and he went on to compose one of the greatest monuments of keyboard music in the world.

Scarlatti wrote 555 sonatas for harpsichord, and each of them stands out as a unique work. The term sonata here has nothing to do with the later, classical definition of a work with several movements. Scarlatti's sonatas are brief works, most just a few minutes long. They are all driven by an intense feeling of rhythm; they are all based on dance movements, as were most baroque harpsichord pieces, and Scarlatti rarely composed introspective music, slow sonatas that gave time to think. His leitmotiv was energy, unrestrained verve and liveliness.

Pieter-Jan Belder is a fine young harpsichordist who became known outside his native Holland because of the excellent recordings he made in Brilliant Classics’ complete set of Bach’s works in 2000. His playing covers a wide range of styles; he seems at ease in all types of music, from the introspective to the lively. This first set of Scarlatti’s sonatas is the beginning of a bold new project: to record all 555 keyboard sonatas for harpsichord. Only one musician has done this: Scott Ross, who recorded the entire set for Erato shortly before his death.

Belder plays this music with the exuberance it calls for. His touch and phrasing are light and lively. His rhythms are strong and sharp, and his instrument brings out a rich, deep sound that highlights the music very well. Belder seems to have a true feeling for this music, even though his set, which will be recorded over a period of several years, may lack the overall vision that Scott Ross obtained in his recording. But Belder is certainly a serious contender - none of his sonatas are disappointing. While most of the pieces are rapid and energetic, there are a few which are more lyrical - sonata K. 32 in D minor is one example. Marked as an aria, it is indeed more like an allemande than a presto. Belder shows here that he has the right feeling for this piece as well.

This is a magnificent set. Fans of Scarlatti will be delighted to know that there is another complete recordings in the works, and, while it will take some five years before all the volumes are released, the wait certainly seems likely to be worthwhile. Not only is this a great recording, but the budget price means there is no excuse to ignore it.

Kirk McElhearn


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