CD1 [63:49]: Harpsichord Sonatas Nos. Kk: 1 in
D minor [2:47]; 2 in G [2:27]; 3 in A minor [2:41]; 4 in G minor
[3:19]; 5 in D minor [3:03]; 6 in F [3:10]; 7 in A minor 4:30;
8 in G minor [2:44]; 9 in D minor [3:09]; 10 in D minor [2:36];
11 in C minor [2:27]; 12 in G minor [3:37]; 13 in G [4:48]; 14
in G [3:25]; 15 in E minor [3:18]; 16 in B flat [4:40]; 17 in
F [3:08]; 18 in D minor [3:49]; 19 in F minor [4:14].
CD2 [49:34]: Harpsichord Sonatas Nos. Kk: 20
in E [3:22]; No 21 in D [5:20]; No 22 in C minor [3:13]; 23 in
G minor [5:27]; 24 in D [5:19]; 25 in F# minor [3:43]; 26 in A
[4:27]; 27 in B minor [4:22]; 28 in E [3:48]; 29 in D [6:14];
30 in G minor [4:15].
The first 30 sonatas occupy the first two discs
of the set and are known as the Essercizi (Exercises).
They represent an anthology of unpaired works all of which are
in the usual form apart from the last – Kk30 (known as the Cat
Fugue). All are marked Allegro or Presto. These
are not really "early" works - Scarlatti’s mastery of
the form and many of his hallmarks are already evident. It is
clear from Ross’s notes that he thought highly of them. Scarlatti
wrote rather immodestly but accurately in his introduction "do
not expect any profound learning but rather an ingenious jesting
with art...". The opener, Kk1 is a relatively well-known
work, rather joyous in feeling despite the minor key. For me,
relatively unknown highlights of the Essercizi are Kk 7
and 20. Ross takes his time in the Cat Fugue and imparts
considerable grandeur to it.
CD3 [61:56]: Harpsichord Sonatas Nos. Kk: 31
in G minor [4:27]; 32 in D minor [1:32]; 33 in D [3:56]; 34 in
D minor [1:36]; 35 in G minor [3:07]; 36 in A minor [2:55]; 37
in C minor [4:02]; 38 in F [2:32]; 39 in A [3:28]; 40 in C minor
[1:19]; 41 in D minor [4:54]; 42 in B flat [1:22]; 43 in G minor
[3:05]; 44 in F [5:22]; 45 in D [3:36]; 46 in E [5:15]; 47 in
B flat [5:13]; 48 in C minor [4:09].
After the rigours of the Essercizi, moods are more varied
in the next eighteen sonatas and there are some slower tempi.
Ross changes harpsichord and in Kk32 starts to use an Italian
harpsichord made by Val which is less brightly-toned than French-style
instrument made by Martin which he used for the Essercizi.
Ross played this instrument, with occasional exceptions, for the
next sixty or so sonatas. Kk 32 is marked Aria and sings
for just 24 bars, Kk34 is a Larghetto. In between comes
the remarkable Kk33 which has changes of time-signature from 3/8
to common time. Kk39 is a well-known and riotous work which Ross
takes Presto rather than the marked Allegro and
rightly so! Then come two minuets (Kk40 and 42) with a second
fugue sandwiched in between. As in the previous fugue, Ross takes
a long view to good effect. After that this disc is all downhill,
finishing with three sonatas marked Presto.
CD4 [64:44]: Harpsichord Sonatas Nos. Kk: 49
in C [5:23]; 50 in F minor [5:10]; 51 in E flat [3:45]; 52 in
D minor [5:32]; 53 in D [3:28]; 54 in A [4:18]; 55 in G [3:44];
56 in C minor [4:44]; 57 in B flat [5:33]; 58 in C minor [3:17];
59 in F [2:02]; 60 in G minor [1:53]; 61 in A minor [3:19]; 62
in A [3:08]; 63 in G [2:10]; 64 in D minor [1:48]; 65 in A [2:15];
66 in B flat [3:10].
This disc opens with two unknown and unusual
but particularly worthwhile sonatas. Kk49 is initially Scarlatti
at his most charming but trademark harmonic complexities are eventually
weaved in. There are several pauses - rare events in works which
often leave the listener feeling breathless. Kk50 has an unrepeated
ten bar introduction preceding what would otherwise be a conventional
binary structure. Kk52 is very unusually marked Andante Moderato.
The following sonata, Kk53, opens rather trivially but there is
more development than usual in the second half. Kk54 is particularly
melodically attractive and Kk55 is in 3/8 time which is a frequent
occurrence in these works. Both were among those recorded by Horowitz.
Kk56 is one of the rarer "open" sonatas for which the
initial second half material is completely new. There soon follows
a third Fugue (Kk58) for which Ross again adopts quite a slow
tempo. Kk60 and 61 lack any tempo markings (though Allegro would
probably have been appropriate for both) and the latter is the
most unusually structured - there are five double bars. It is
actually a set of variations, the only one in Kirkpatrick's catalogue.
This seems to have been rarely recorded and deserves to be better
known. Kk62 opens brightly in A major for 8 bars before spending
most of its time in minor keys. At the end of each half is a fearsome
bar of hemidemisemiquavers. The next two sonatas are marked Capriccio
and Gavota, and the former seems appropriate enough. Ross
plays the latter in a sturdy fashion.
CD5 [64:33]: Harpsichord Sonatas Nos. Kk: 67
in F# minor [1:52]; 68 in E flat [3:57]; 69 in F minor [3:18];
70 in B flat [2:32]; 71 in G [2:14]; 72 in C [2:51]; 73 in C minor
[4:40]; 74 in A [1:30]; 75 in G [2:09]; 76 in G minor [2:20];
77 in D minor [3:58]; 78 in F [2:08]; 79 in G [2:47]; 80 in G
[1:27]; 82 in F [2:39]; 83 in A [4:20]; 84 in C minor [3:17];
85 in F [1:46]; 86 in C [4:19]; 87 in B minor [4:16]; 92 in D
minor [2:59]; 93 in G minor [2:06].
First, I should note that sonatas with Kk Nos.
81 and 88-91 are missing from the above list because they are
among those which are not for solo harpsichord. These have been
collected together on disc 34. The opening two sonatas here are
amongst Scarlatti's wildest creations in terms of harmony and
rhythm respectively. There are no tempo markings for Kk Nos. 68-70
but number 69 is sedate and doleful sounding in Ross's hands.
Kk Nos. 71 and 72 contain relatively few surprises but are cheerful
enough in G and C respectively. The latter reaches the end of
bar 6 before it deviates by a single note from the tonic triad.
Apparently it has been suggested by Pestelli that this was the
very first of all the sonatas. Scarlatti has some surprises in
store for Kk73 - first this is more overtly contrapuntal than
usual and secondly there are two minuets tacked on the end of
the normal binary structure, the second notably more complex than
the first. Kk76 ends each half with a long and very fast run as
in Kk62. Ross's notes indicate that these are the only two such
examples in the whole set. Kk Nos. 77 and 78 are further works
with minuets tacked on the end (should these be regarded as multi-movement
works?) whilst Kk80 is simply a minuet in its own right. Some
of these works may have also been intended for performance by
groups of players. Kk82 and Kk85 are unusual in lacking a central
double bar. In the former, Scarlatti uses the extended length
of the single section to firmly root the home key of F and then
modulate even further than usual away from it. It is possible
that these two works were intended to be part of a suite. In between,
Kk 83 is another with a minuet tacked on the end and Kk84 is a
gem in C minor with a large leap downwards at the end of each
half. Kk86 is marked Andante moderato whilst Kk87 and 93 are Fugues.
The former is in two sections - there seems to no such thing as
a standard design in this part of Kirkpatrick's catalogue.
CD6 [73:46]: Harpsichord
Sonatas Nos. Kk: 94 in F [1:27]; 95 in C [1:18]; 96 in D [5:12];
97 in G minor [4:30]; 98 in E minor [3:03]; 99 in C minor [4:59];
100 in C [3:03]; 101 in A [4:25]; 102 in G minor [3:06]; 103 in
G [3:35]; 104 in G [6:43]; 105 in G [5:22]; 106 in F [2:37] 107
in F 4:53]; 108 in G minor [3;33]; 109 in A minor [4:42]; 110
in A minor [4:07]; 111 in G minor [2:34]; 112 in B flat [4:30].
For this disc, Ross
changes to another harpsichord, a French-style double manual instrument
made by Anthony Sidey which has a rather brighter sound and is
very attractive. He uses this instrument for the sonatas with
Kk Nos. 94-188 and then reverts to it for the later sonatas (from
Kk356 onwards). Kk94 is a short minuet; Kk95 has a very short
first half and is otherwise notable for the need for hand-crossing.
Kk96 is one of the best known of all and Ross gives it his all
in a superb rendition. In his notes, he is uncomplimentary about
Kk 97 (but he still plays it with aplomb) and suggests that may
not be by Scarlatti. Kk Nos. 99 and 100 are the first definite
pair in Kirkpatrick’s catalogue, despite the former being in C
minor and the latter in C major. Kk Nos. 103/104/105 share the
key of G major but Ross thinks that they are all unpaired. Kk
104 is notable, an extended and wonderful work which could not
be by anyone else. Kk Nos. 106/107, and 109/110 are also paired,
Kk 109 contains the only Adagio marking in the whole set.
Kk111 is a weird sounding creation with unusual repeated off-beat
CD7 [59:36]: Harpsichord
Sonatas Nos. Kk: 113 in A [4:15]; 114 in A [5:26]; 115 in C
minor [4:49]; 116 in C minor [4:09]; 117 in C [4:53]; 118 in
D [4:49]; 119 in D [5:50]; 120 in D minor [3:19]; 121 in G Minor
[5:06]; 122 in D [5:02]; 123 in B flat [4:28]; 124 in G [4:12];
125 in G [3:14].
The sonatas on this
disc are all quite meaty and in the standard binary form. The
first four are two pairs, others are Kk Nos. 118/119, and 124/125.
The opener is quite well known and melodically appealing. Its
partner is almost unknown but a striking example of the Spanish
flavour in many of these sonatas. Kk Nos. 115 and 116 are weighty
in feeling, particularly the former. The relationship of this
sonata to its peers seems analogous to Mozart’s piano sonata
K457 (which is in the same key) – i.e. on another level in terms
of depth of dramatic expression. Kk117 is an example of a sonata
with much effective repetition. Ross avoids overdoing it and
does not repeat the second half. He does this occasionally elsewhere
(also in Kk Nos. 120 and 124 on this disc), particularly if
the second half is more substantial than the first. Kk118 is
unusually marked Non presto and its partner Kk119 is
notable for a single bar of hemidemisemiquavers in common time
when the time signature is otherwise 3/8. Scarlatti uses a similar
device and more liberally in Kk121. Before that Kk120 has much
need for hand crossing and some notable trills deep in the bass.
The final pair are contrasted with Kk124 sounding ferociously
difficult whilst its partner uses much simpler material initially
but interest is added through use of an “open” structure.
CD8 [61:18]: Harpsichord
Sonatas Nos. Kk: 126 in C minor [5:07]; 127 in A flat [5:58];
128 in B flat minor [4:17]; 129 in C minor [3:54]; 130 in A
flat [2:47]; 131 in B flat minor [4:00]; 132 in C [6:12] 133
in C [3:42]; 134 in E [3:33]; 135 in E [4:53]; 136 in E [4:31];
137 in D [4:03]; 138 in D minor [3:48]; 139 in C minor [4:28].
Scarlatti’s sonatas, I am becoming increasingly aware of the
importance of the home keys and time signatures of the works.
It has been suggested that Beethoven wrote some of his finest
music in C minor and perhaps the same may be true of Scarlatti.
There were 23 sonatas in this key and three of them appear on
this disc. Kk126 is a magnificent creation – a work of real
substance lasting five minutes which otherwise has been rarely
recorded. Kk129 is almost in the same league and bears a time
signature – 6/8 – which has been used only twice so far and
not since the Essercizi (in Kk. Nos 9 and 30). By contrast,
a pound for each time Scarlatti wrote 3/8 would probably cover
the cost of this set! The final work in C minor on this disc,
Kk139 is quite a romp at Presto with some remarkable
passages in the second half where every note in the right hand
has a mordant for bars on end. Two keys are used on this disc
– each of them twice – for their only appearances in Scarlatti’s
oeuvre. In neither case are the works paired. Kk Nos. 127 and
130 are in A flat whilst Kk Nos. 128 are 131 are in B flat minor.
Unfortunately the slip case and booklet are wrong in suggesting
that these latter works are in B flat major – the first documentary
errors I have noted. Kk Nos. 132 and 133 represent the only
pair on this disc, the former being marked Andante and
latter Allegro. Ross maximises the tempo contrast between
these works in gloriously forthright performances. Immediately
afterwards comes the catalogue’s first triptych in the “bright”
key of E major (Kk Nos. 134-6). Contrast is provided through
time signatures and 6/8 recurs in the central sonata. It is
then used again in Kk137, an attractive work in Scarlatti’s
favourite D major.
CD9 [55:25]: Harpsichord
Sonatas Nos Kk: 140 in D [3:50]; 141 in D minor [4:45]; 142 in
F# minor [3:51]; 143 in C [3:59]; 144 in G [3:26]; 145 in D [3:49];
146 in G [3:10]; 147 in E minor [4:51]; 148 in A minor [3:38];
149 in A minor [2:03]; 150 in F [3:14]; 151 in F [3:51]; 152 in
G [2:40]; 153 in G [1:59]; 154 in B flat [2:38]; 155 in B flat
Sonata No. Kk141 has
whole bars of repeated notes in the right hand and is one of the
most well known of all. The authenticity of Kk Nos. 142 to 147
has been doubted by some authorities. Ross thought that Kk Nos.
144 and 146 are paired even though they didn’t get consecutive
Kirkpatrick numbers. Kk144 is marked Cantabile and sounds
most attractive here. From Kk148 onwards the sonatas become less
complicated, possibly a deliberate attempt by Scarlatti to make
them more playable. They are no less enjoyable to listen though,
for example the little-known Kk150 is particularly likeable and
still contains some characteristic long leaps. The last four sonatas
on this disc are two pairs. After this point pairing becomes the
norm for quite a long way ahead.
CD10 [63:51]: Harpsichord
Sonatas Nos Kk: 156 in C [2:44]; 157 in C [3:43]; 158 in C minor
[3:50]; 159 in C [2:28]; 160 in D [5:24]; 161 in D [3:43]; 162
in E [4:05]; 163 in E [2:16]; 164 in D [3:17]; 165 in C [3:12];
166 in C [3:31]; 167 in F [4:09]; 168 in F [3:36]; 169 in G [5:08];
170 in C [4:52]; 171 in G [2:39]; 172 in B flat [5:10].
This disc contains
some sonatas with fewer technical difficulties than usual (particularly
after Kk164) but there is still much of interest. Kk157 has repeated
simultaneous leaps for both hands in opposite directions. Kk158
is heavily decorated, in C minor and marked Andante. It
is paired with Kk159 which is short, martial sounding and very
attractive in C major. Kk Nos. 160 and 161 are paired, both with
open structures and containing pauses. The next pair is in E major,
Kk162 has a very unusual structure although it is still in binary
form. The first half starts Andante then is followed by
an Allegro, Ross repeats the whole; in the second half
there are three sections with a central Andante based on
the opening material, this is not repeated here. Kk164 is unpaired
and has unremarkable material but Ross uses the lute stop to add
interest. In Kk169 technical difficulties are resumed with double
mordants in second half – this is a very attractive sonata which
reminds one of the underlying Spanish influence in the music.
Kk170 is very unusual in having different tempi for two halves
– Andante followed by Allegro. Kk172 is a delightful
sonata with a relentless tarantella rhythm.
CD11 [62:45]: Harpsichord
Sonatas Nos Kk: 173 in B minor [3:56]; 174 in C minor [4:24];
175 in A minor [4:06]; 176 in D minor [4:50]; 177 in D [3:29];
178 in D [2:00]; 179 in G minor [2:55]; 180 in G [3:11]; 181 in
A [4:25]; 182 in A [3:38]; 183 in F minor [4:31]; 184 in F minor
[4:42]; 185 in F minor [3:17]; 186 in F minor [2:46]; 187 in F
minor [4:25]; 188 in A minor [6:03].
Kk Nos. 173 to 176
represents a remarkable series of unpaired sonatas all in minor
keys which tend to gravitate to major keys. Kk175 is perhaps the
best known. The structure of Kk176 is very unusual – it has a
slow-fast-slow structure in the first half but only slow-fast
in the second half. After Kk176 John Sankey’s free downloads of
the sheet music run out. I managed to find 545 of the sonatas
on a single CD (with Haydn’s as well!) from CD Sheet Music costing
about £16. This can easily be printed out as required but the
disadvantage is that it is based on Longo’s edition. Not only
is the ordering completely different but Longo contains markings
he added such as phrasing and dynamics that are irrelevant here.
Nevertheless seeing the notes on the page is very useful and a
proper printed edition would have cost hundreds of pounds. A little
later on five consecutive sonatas in Kirkpatrick’s catalogue (Kk
Nos. 183 to 187) are all in F minor. The first four of these are
two pairs with Kk185 in a slow tempo. Perhaps the most remarkable
is Kk187 which is notable for almost continuous ornamentation.
Patrick C Waller
Sale of complete set:
Sale of single disc sampler:
Sale of Kirkpatrick’s book:
John Sankey’s MIDI files:
Sonatas listed by Kk, L and P numbers:
Richard Lester's complete set: