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Music of Tribute, Volume 4: Scarlatti
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in G major, L 486 [4:53]
Jean FRANCAIX (1912-1997)

Hommage à Scarlatti [3:22]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in B minor, L 33 [5:53]
Marcelle de Manziarly (1899-1989)

Hommage à Scarlatti [1 :19]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in B flat major, L 396 [3:52]
Vlastimir NIKOLOVSKI (1925-2001)

Sonata in G [2:37]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in C minor, L 360 [2:47]
Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888)

Duettino (alla D. Scarlatti) [1:51]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in D major, L 415 [5:26]
Raymond LEWENTHAL (1926-1988)

Toccata alla Scarlatti [4:18]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in A minor, L 314 [3:12]
Marc-André Hamelin (b.1961)

Essercizio per pianoforte [4:58]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in F major, L 432 [6:20]
Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938)

Concert-Allegro [5:18]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in E major, L 21 [5:42]
Walter STEFFENS (b.1934)

Hommage à Scarlatti [4 :01]
György KURTÁG (b.1926)

Hommage à D.S.
Viktoria Lakissova (piano)
Recorded in Sendesaal Radio Bremen, Bremen, June 2004
LABOR RECORDS LAB 7077 [66:37]

I recently reviewed an earlier volume in Labor’s series ‘Music of Tribute’ (see review) where the object of tribute was Villa-Lobos. I said then that the concept was a very interesting one and that it made for a very stimulating CD. The same goes for this volume, made up of keyboard music by - or in tribute to – Domenico Scarlatti.

The pianist here is Viktoria Lakissova, who is a new name to me. She was born in St. Petersburg, studied at the Special School of Music at the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory and then at the Conservatory itself. She later studied with Ekaterina Murina and at the Hochschle für Musik und Theater in Hamburg. She has won her fair share of international piano competitions. On the evidence of this CD she is a decidedly promising young pianist. She has clear articulation, technical facility and musical perceptiveness. While her performances of the Scarlatti sonatas are not the very finest I have ever heard on the modern piano – the competition, after all, includes Horowitz and Pletnev, to name but two – they are far more than merely adequate. Nor does she find too much to trouble her in the considerable technical demands in some of the other pieces, such as those by Alkan, Lewenthal and Hamelin.

Sonatas by Scarlatti are interleaved, as it were, with tributes by other composers. The nature of the ‘tribute’ naturally varies a good deal. Francaix’s characteristically witty Hommage employs such Scarlatti characteristics as the contrast of keys and imitation between the hands. As well as Scarlatti there are allusions to Beethoven and Debussy, too. Still, the Hommage was published (in 1987) in a set called Promenade d’un Musicologue Eclectique! Manziarly’s Hommage is vivacious piece full of Scarlatti-like effects, its tonal writing spiced by occasional unexpected harmonies.The piece by Steffens, on the other hand, uses intervals of a decidedly modern kind, and has a less direct relationship to the Scarlatti model, though it does adopt the binary form that characterises the sonatas. Kurtag’s 17 bars of music introduce four changes of tempo and create the illusion of a Scarlatti sonata that has been passed through a kind of serialising, compressing machine!

The Toccata alla Scarlatti is, so far as I can remember, the first composition by the pianist Raymond Lewenthal which I have ever encountered. It is a convincing piece of pastiche with, unsurprisingly, plenty of opportunities for bravura playing. Marc-André Hamelin is, of course, another who is far better known as a pianist than as a composer. The full title of his piece is Étude No. VI, Essercizio per pianoforte and it carries the subtitle ‘Omaggio a Domenico Scarlatti’. Scarlatti, it is worth remebering, used the word Essercizi to refer to his keyboard compositions.There is a recording of this piece by Hamelin himself on the CD Kaleidescope (Hyperion), which I haven’t heard. This particular ‘ommaggio’ is an absolute joy! I can’t better the description of it by Eric Salzman in his booklet notes for this issue, where he describes it "as a piece that Domenico might actually have written, but which is constantly interrupted by wrong notes, not to say streams of wrong notes, à la Maestro Jones" (Spike Jones, that is!).

You will gather that there is plenty of fun on this CD, as well as some serious reflections – some of the pieces are, indeed, mirrors held up to specific earlier works – on the wonderful keyboard compositions of Domenico Scarlatti. I recommend it warmly.

Glyn Pursglove



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