Scarlatti: Piano Sonatas

Scarlatti: Piano Sonatas

by Yevgeny Sudbin


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Scarlatti: Piano Sonatas

The keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti never fell out of the repertory the way most other Baroque music did, and there is a tradition of performing it on the piano that is perhaps even longer than that for Bach's keyboard music. It is still odd, however, to see the words "piano sonatas" on the cover of an album like this one, for they are actually sonatas for harpsichord. Much is lost when they are played on the piano -- for example the subtle linkage in the eighteenth century mind between the harpsichord and the guitar, especially in the work of a composer who worked in Spain and let its vernacular traditions subtly flavor his music. The beginning of the fourth track on this album, the "Sonata in D major, K. 435," sounds arbitrary on a piano but makes perfect sense on a harpsichord. That said, the huge variety of ways Scarlatti could infuse dense chromaticism into a simple binary form gains added articulation when the sonatas are made to sound like Chopin, as the slower ones are here. Russian-born pianist Yevgeny Sudbin is an intense-looking soul with quite an arresting presence at the keyboard, even on disc. In the faster sonatas he tends to begin with a light, almost grazing touch and shapes phrases in such a way that they reach their sharpest edge at an unexpected point. He has the effortless quality and a certain X-factor fearlessness that make for pianistic stardom, and in the slower pieces he manages to lay on quite a bit of pedal without losing clarity. The selection of pieces, covering a wide variety of Scarlattian textures -- operatic, contrapuntal, guitar-like, dance-oriented, hyperexpressive -- is another strong point, and it gives Sudbin a chance to display his emotional range. The album was beautifully recorded, in a Swedish concert hall, and the booklet gives a good introduction to Scarlatti's compositional world -- although it would have been nice if the characterization of Scarlatti's works as "original and happy freaks" had been sourced to its originator, Charles Burney. For those not willing to hear Scarlatti on his own terms in the recordings of Pierre Hantaï and others, Sudbin's version ranks as an exciting new release.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/29/2005
Label: Bis
UPC: 7318590015087
catalogNumber: 1508
Rank: 90968


  1. Sonata for keyboard in B flat major, K. 545 (L. 500)
  2. Sonata for keyboard in F minor, K. 466 (L. 118)
  3. Sonata for keyboard in F minor, K. 365 (L. 480)
  4. Sonata for keyboard in D major, K. 435 (L. 361)
  5. Sonata for keyboard in B minor, K. 87 (L. 33)
  6. Sonata for keyboard in C major, K. 487 (L. 205)
  7. Sonata for keyboard in F sharp minor, K. 448 (L. 485)
  8. Sonata for keyboard in D major, K. 492 (L. 14)
  9. Sonata for keyboard in G minor, K. 30 (L. 499) "The Cat's Fugue"
  10. Sonata for keyboard in G major, K. 455 (L. 209)
  11. Work(s): Sonata in G minor [No Kirkpatrick number]
  12. Sonata for keyboard in E major, K. 20 (L. 375) "Capriccio"
  13. Sonata for keyboard in A major, K. 429 (L. 132) "Barcarolle"
  14. Sonata for keyboard in G minor, K. 426 (L. 128)
  15. Sonata for keyboard in G major, K. 427 (L. 286)
  16. Sonata for keyboard in B minor, K. 197 (L. 147)
  17. Sonata for keyboard in B minor, K. 27 (L. 449)
  18. Sonata for keyboard in A major, K. 24 (L. 495)

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