Record of the day: Domenico Scarlatti, "The Last Sonatas"

Record of the day: Domenico Scarlatti, “The Last Sonatas”

Domenico Scarlatti
The Last Sonatas (Cd Glossa GCD P315o7)

«Do not expect, O Amateur or Professor, profound understanding in these compositions, but rather the ingenious trick of the art to train you in frankness on the harpsichord».
This warning reported by Domenico Scarlatti in the 1738 edition of his Gravicembalo Exercises caused him
involuntarily causing damage of no small importance, giving the opportunity to several commentators to paint his work as a bubbly but superficial collection of bravura passages on the keyboard, lacking in compositional depth.

This reputation as a “virtuoso” is partly justified: many works by the Neapolitan musician require an unassailable technique in order to be performed correctly; very fast tempos, big jumps, spectacular crossings of hands and arms and billions of notes played at supersonic speed; but all this is merely the external appearance of an author who is much more profound and daring than first impressions might suggest.
The use of the form in a single movement, the notable harmonic boldness, the bursting rhythmic vitality of his music make him completely free of the gallant affectations that were rampant in his time.

Scarlatti aims at the main essence of music, the rhythm: his incessant and frenetic keyboard explorations transport
who listens in a universe of burning intuitions that are born and die in the blink of an eye, continually renewing themselves through an inexhaustible quantity of melodic ideas.
Scarlatti has so many ideas that he doesn’t have time to fully dissect them, he throws bursts of
of beautiful themes one after the other, to the point that they can almost stun the listener with such creative munificence.

This beautifully performed disc by one of the finest living harpsichordists, Fabio Bonizzoni, is an excellent introduction
to Scarlatti’s work and focuses his attention on the author’s latest production, where many virtuosic solutions are abandoned in favor of a more introspective but no less surprising compositional approach.
The melancholic side of Scarlatti’s melodies is highlighted with sensitivity and attention to detail.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.