Arrangements and homages to Scarlatti by Tausig, Brassin, Granados, Czerny, Friedman, Alkan, Hamelin, Françaix, Lewenthal and Habermann (see end of review for full track-listing)
Sandro Russo (piano)
rec. 28 November 2012 and 19 February 2013, Oktaven Studios, New York City, USA
MUSICAL CONCEPTS MC 149 [61:46]
Sandro Russo’s Scarlatti Recreated brings together nineteen arrangements, expansions, and homages to Domenico Scarlatti. Some of the composers just wanted to “update” Scarlatti’s writing so that it fits the piano better; some endeavoured to make them harder to play; some were simply fascinated by Scarlatti and his art. This album is similar in concept to Joseph Moog’s recent Scarlatti Illuminated (they have three tracks in common), only Russo’s playing is more consistently outstanding.
Russo, I should emphasize, really is outstanding. He proves a great guide to the different transcribers and their styles. The second of Louis Brassin’s arrangements is a merry romp, calling to mind not just Scarlatti but Couperin. Enrique Granados is a superb arranger, and he imposes less of himself on the music than certain others, particularly Ignaz Friedman. When I reviewed Joseph Moog’s album, I said Friedman’s pastorale after Scarlatti sounded more like Scriabin; here it takes on an almost jazzy aspect, or at least Percy Grainger-ish.
Jean Françaix contributes a typically witty homage which includes quotations by composers who are not Scarlatti. What did you expect from a work called Promenade of an Eclectic Musicologist? Marc-André Hamelin also lives up to expectations, in that his tribute is staggeringly difficult to play and loaded with amusing dissonance. Raymond Lewenthal’s comparatively straight homage ends with an Ives-like “wrong” chord.
Russo’s skills as a programmer must also be praised. Not many pianists would include notorious study-music writer Carl Czerny, who gets a world-premiere recording for his own brilliant mimicry of Scarlatti’s style. The seven Enrique Granados pieces are skilfully arranged into a suite, the “slow movement” (from K. 109 in A minor) moving so seamlessly into the finale (from K. 211 in A major) that you’ll surely be dazzled.
The pianist’s Hamburg Steinway is consistently pure in tone, and the recorded sound cannot be criticized. It’s fitting that this is released on the label Musical Concepts, since it is a concept album of the best kind.
A concept album of the best kind: superb homages to and rewrites of Scarlatti.
Carl Tausig (1841-1871)
Capriccio in E (Scarlatti Sonata K. 20)
Sonata in C (Scarlatti Sonata K. 487)
Louis Brassin (1840-1884)
Andante in B flat minor (Sonata K. 377)
Scherzo in F (Sonata K. 525)
Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
From the 26 Sonatas Inéditas
Sonata No. 7 (K. 102)
Sonata No. 18 (K. 547)
Sonata No. 5 (K. 541)
Sonata No. 15 (K. 553)
Sonata No. 12 (K. 534)
Sonata No. 19 (K. 109)
Sonata No. 20 (K. 211)
Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Sonata in the Style of Domenico Scarlatti, Op. 788
Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948)
Pastorale (Sonata K. 446)
Gigue (Sonata K. 523)
Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888)
Duettino, from Esquisses, Op. 63
Marc-André Hamelin (1961-)
Étude No. 6: Omaggio a Domenico Scarlatti
Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
Hommage à Domenico Scarlatti
Raymond Lewenthal (1923-1988)
Toccata alla Scarlatti
Michael Habermann (b.1950)
Homage to Scarlatti (Sonata K. 159)
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