> Domenico Scarlatti - Complete Keyboard Sonatas Vol.2 [KM]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Complete Keyboard Sonatas Vol. 2

Sonatas K 49-98
1. K 49 in C major: presto 5'52
2. K 50 in F minor: allegro 5'31
3. K 51 in E flat major: allegro 3'56
4. K 52 in D minor: andante moderato 6'35
5. K 53 in D major: presto 3'44
6. K 54 in A minor: allegro 3'57
7. K 55 in G major: allegro 4'04
8. K 56 in C minor: con spirito 3'57
9. K 57 in B flat major: allegro 6'14
10. K 58 in C minor: Fuga 3'00
11. K 59 in F major: allegro 2'12
12. K 60 in G minor: without tempo indication 2'01
13. K 61 in A minor: without tempo indication 3'25
14. K 62 in A major: allegro 3'19
15. K 63 in G major: Capriccio, allegro 2'28
16. K 64 in D minor: Gavota, allegro ` 1'57
17. K 65 in A major: allegro 2'28
18. K 66 in B flat major: allegro 3'13
Total Time: 67’55
1. K 67 in F sharp minor: allegro 1'55
2. K 68 in E flat major: without tempo indication 5'46
3. K 69 in F minor: without tempo indication 3'49
4. K 70 in B flat major: without tempo indication 2'37
5. K 71 in G major: allegro 2'15
6. K 72 in C major: allegro 2'48
7. K 73 in C minor: allegro-minuetto-minuetto 4'09
8. K 74 in A major: allegro 1'44
9. K 75 in G major: allegro 2'01
10. K 76 in G minor: presto 2'22
11. K 77 in D minor: moderato e cantabile, minuet 5'48
12. K 78 in F major: Gigha, allegro, minuet 2'03
13. K 79/80 in G major: allegrissimo, minuet 3'55
14. K 81 in E minor: grave-allegro-grave-allegro (violin & basso continuo) 8'30
15. K 82 in F major: without tempo indication 2'44
16. K 83 in A major: alla breve, minuet 4'27
17. K 84 in C minor: without tempo indication 3'38
18. K 85 in F major: without tempo indication 1'50
Total Time: 62’23
1. K 86 in C major: andante moderato 6'01
2. K 87 in B minor: without tempo indication 4'31
3. K 88 in G minor: grave-andante moderato-allegro-minuet (violin & b.c.) 7'27
4. K 89 in D minor: allegro-grave-allegro (violin & b.c.) 6'00
5. K 90 in D minor: grave-allegro-without tempo indication-allegro (violin & b.c.) 8'47
6. K 91 in G major: grave-allegro-grave-allegro (violin & b.c.) 7'37
7. K 92 in D minor: without tempo indication 4'25
8. K 93 in G minor: fuga 3'05
9. K 94 in F major: minuet 1'25
10. K 95 in C major: without tempo indication 1'19
11. K 96 in D major: allegrissimo 5'27
12. K 97 in G minor: allegro 6'33
13. K 98 in E minor: allegrissimo 3'10
Total Time: 65’49
Pieter-Jan Belder, harpsichord
Rec: Spring 2001, Doopsgezinde Kerk Deventer


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Domenico Scarlatti, who was, roughly speaking, 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. In any event 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. 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 second set of Scarlatti’s sonatas is the confirmation of what listeners heard in the first set - that Belder is creating the second great complete recording of these works, a set of all 555 keyboard sonatas for harpsichord. Only one musician has done this before: Scott Ross, who recorded the entire set for Erato shortly before his death.

Belder is a magnificent musician. While his Bach recordings are excellent, his Scarlatti is magical. In just about every sonata it sounds as though he has found the key to performing them perfectly. Listen to some of the faster sonatas, such as K 53 in D major, where his exuberance takes control of the piece from beginning to end. Or the brilliant virtuosity of K 56 in C minor, where he brushes aside the technical difficulties as if they were just exercises. Or listen to some of the slow, lyrical pieces - of which there are not that many - such as the long K68 in E flat major, where Belder’s minuet tempo and subtly graceful ornamentation turn this into a miniature masterpiece. It should be noted that, in general, Belder’s tempi are a bit slower than Ross’s, and he turns many of these works into less flamboyant versions of the music, giving a slightly different impression of Scarlatti.

One plus, on this set, is the presence of several sonatas for harpsichord, violin and basso continuo (which Ross, in his set, relegates to the final disc). Belder keeps them in the Kirkpatrick order, and these five sonatas are a wonderful change and are very attractive.

The second volume in this set shows that the first was no flash in the pan, and that Belder’s cycle will become recognized as the equal of Scott Ross’s legendary set, if not surpassing it. On top of that, at the usual Brilliant Classics budget price, there is no reason not to snap this set up right away. Kudos to this budget label for the courage to embark on such a project and for delivering such an incredibly perfect interpretation of these fine works.

Kirk McElhearn

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