Domenico Scarlatti (1685 --1757) composed over 555 short sonatas for the keyboard which made him, as the liner notes for this CD aptly point out, "the greatest of idiomatic composers for the harpsichord." With that recognition, it is intriguing that this is the first volume of a projected complete recording on the Naxos label of the Scarlatti sonatas on the piano. These pieces, with their aristocratic ease, sway, brilliance, and linearity fit beautifully on the harpsichord. I always feel a twinge of regret when I hear them on the piano. But there is another side to the matter. I have attempted some of these sonatas myself on the piano from Ralph Kirkpatrick's anthology of sixty sonatas. Furthermore, as a projected complete set of the sonatas, each of the volumes will include a mixture of familiar works as well as works which most listeners will hear for the first time. Finally, each CD in this collection will be performed by a different pianist. I find this an excellent way of performing the complete set as the listener will hear the range of sonatas performed by different artists in their own styles. Thus, the series offers an excellent way to get to know Scarlatti and pianism.
This CD, the first volume in the series, features the Georgian pianist Eteri Andjaparidze. She has recorded a variety of works for Naxos, including music by the American composer Zez Confery and works by Prokofiev. She performs seventeen sonatas on this disk, ranging from the early (K. 8) to the late (K. 544) Ms. Andajaparidze performs Scarlatti with a light touch indeed. Her tone is quiet and light and much of her playing is highly reflective. She does well with the scale passages, filigree, ornamentation, and repeated notes that are an integral part of Scarlatti's style.
The CD includes good program notes which comment briefly and evocatively on each of the sonatas on the recording. Of the works on this CD, I enjoyed particularly the sonata in E-minor, K. 402. This is the longest work on the CD, running over twelve minutes. It is a slow, reflective, and elaborate work featuring lovely falling arpeggios in the right hand. I also enjoyed (and have attempted to play) the sonata in G major, K427, which Scarlatti directs is to be played "as fast as possible." An unusual marking which should bring joy to pianists tempted to rush! The sonata in G minor, K.450, which is a march in the upper register of the instrument and the sonata in F major, K.446, which is flowing, introspective, and dancelike were also among my favorites on this CD.
Scarlatti's music gains its depth from its lightness and gaiety. Those listeners unfamiliar with Scarlatti will have an excellent opportunity to get to know him through this series of his complete sonatas on Naxos.