Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in F major K541/L120 [3:29]
Sonata in A minor K54/L241 [5:24]
Sonata in D major K430/L463 [2:43]
Sonata in A major K429/L132 [3:01]
Sonata in G major K146/L349 [2:27]
Sonata in E major K20/L375 [2:35]
Sonata in D major K492/L14 [3:43]
Sonata in B flat major K0/L539 [3:20]
Sonata in D minor K9/L413 [3:19]
Sonata in D minor K141/L422 [3:48]
Sonata in C minor K319/L35 [2:50]
Sonata in E major K280/L23 [5:02]
Sonata in B minor K87/L33 [4:54]
Sonata in F minor K19/L383 [3:48]
Sonata in F major K525/L188 [2:23]
Marek Drenowski (piano)
rec. October 1987, Concert Hall of the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra in Bydgoszcz
DUX 0789 [52:45]
This recital was recorded back in 1987, though I’m not aware it’s been released before. Marek Drenowski enjoys a distinguished career. He was a pupil, as were so many, of Zbigniew Drzewiecki at the Warsaw Academy of Music. He was talent spotted by Bernstein, who invited him to Tanglewood to perform with the Boston Symphony. And over the years he’s made a good number of recordings, including Chopin Concertos in their chamber versions, Weber, Tansman, Szymanowski and much else. He’s currently professor of piano at the Paris Schola Cantorum and in Łódż.
He’s a sensitive, thoughtful, broadly unmannered Scarlatti player. He marries a certain romantic spirit with directness of expression, which may seem contradictory but seems to work. Thus his B minor sonata K87/L33 is straight forward and uncomplicated. It’s much faster, and employs less rubati, than Carlo Grante in his immense Complete Scarlatti undertaking - on an Imperial Bösendorfer no less - on Music & Arts, the first volume of which I reviewed and greatly admired. If Grante seems to indulge phrases too much for your liking, then this approach may suit, especially so, as in the case of the famous D minor K9/L413, when trills are tight and the direction of the music is astutely gauged.
However Grante’s articulation, on those occasions when their repertoire duplicates, proves much lighter, more varied and often considerably more interesting. The F minor K19/L383 reveals that Drenowski’s plain speaking can sometimes slide into bluntness when listened next to Grante’s crispness and coloration. In this respect the Polish pianist is not helped by his recording, which was made in the Concert Hall of the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra in Bydgoszcz. The engineers haven’t got in close enough and the sound blurs and billows much too much, blunting clarity and precision.
Furthermore Drenowski tends to treat the E major K20/L375 as something of an etude, whereas Grante vests it with aristocratic wit and harmonic depth. Nor, in the B minor K87/L33, can he replicate the sense of intimacy, albeit with a sec quality, generated by Marcelle Meyer in her classic 1955 recordings of Scarlatti on EMI.
So, this now nearly 25 year old recording isn’t really much of a contender, unfortunately. The playing is assured if a bit businesslike, but the recording quality very unsympathetic.
Jonathan Woolf  

Not really much of a contender.