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Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Nineteen Sonatas

Sonata in G minor K8
Sonata in A major K39
Sonata in G minor K60
Sonata in G major K63
Sonata in D major K96
Sonata in D major K118
Sonata in C major K132
Sonata in B minor K87
Sonata in A major K209
Sonata in F minor K239
Sonata in F sharp minor K319
Sonata in A major K322
Sonata in E flat K371
Sonata in G major K427
Sonata in D major K430
Sonata in G major K454
Sonata in D major K492
Sonata in E major K495
Sonata in E flat major K474
Joyce Hatto (piano)
Recorded Concert Artist Studios, June and September 1997

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Companion to her disc of Eighteen Sonatas, also reviewed, we find here the same virtues that made that recital so attractive. Joyce Hatto never sounds etiolated or finicky, her touch is of appropriate weight and depth and rhythm is engaged. So in the E flat major she brings out all the harmonic quirks with vivid musicianship but no point making excesses; one could point to Marcelle Meyer’s playing here, as I did in my review of the other recital, and note that this is an unusual occasion where she is slower and more explicitly romantic than Hatto. Meyer though tends to make more of dynamics and to rely on speed to perky, harpsichord-like effect, as in the D major K96. The question of harpsichord, piano or a mixed approach that uses a piano but in the light of experience of the harpsichord is one that continues to dog Scarlatti playing. But there is room in the pantheon for Horowitz and Hess as much as for Ross and Jando.

A few more considerations. Hatto is more linear and strictly pianistic in the B minor K87 and she sounds fluency itself. In the G major K427 one finds strong divergences. Hatto brings out the martial pomposity well, with fine chording, deep but yet still playful, the left hand’s animating rhythm pushing things onwards. Her playing is also colourful and imaginative though turn to the phenomenally fleet and fluent Meyer and listen to her convulsive dynamism. In the D major K492 where Hatto brings smooth contours Meyer brings vivacity and a sense of, for want of a more appropriate word, swing. I greatly enjoyed Hatto’s way with the A major K39 where she’s not quite as capricious as Horowitz’s famous recording or quite as fast but is still powerfully vigorous.

I’m not sure how much more Scarlatti there is to come from Joyce Hatto – if any – but the two I’ve reviewed have shown her to be a persuasive and sensitive advocate; qualities that are entirely and predictably consonant with her playing as a whole.

Jonathan Woolf


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