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Michael Bailey
Blogcritics, May 2007

Following one commanding Russian pianist, Evgeny Zarafiants, who contributed Volume 6 to the Naxos Scarlatti Sonata series, is another in Konstantin Scherbakov. Like Jenö Jandó, Scherbakov has plowed a huge furrow through the Naxos catalogue with piano series that include Franz Liszt’s transcriptions of Beethoven’s Symphonies, the complete piano music of Leopold Godowsky, as well as the Rachmaninov and Scriabin Piano Concertos, Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues, and Tchaikovsky Piano Concertos. How he could have missed the Prokofiev corpus is still a mystery.

Remaining steadfast in the Russian dedication to Domenico Scarlatti and his Keyboard Sonatas, Scherbakov provides a fiery recital, opening withy a precisely articulated performance of the F Major Sonata, "K. 483." His playing here is comparable to the conservative and militaristic, harpsichord-like performances of Jandó and Zarafiants with echoes the power and command of Sviatoslav Richter in playing Bach. This meticulousness extends to F Major Sonata, "K. 483" and the A Major Sonata, "K. 283," where Scherbakov infuses the march-like cadences with his certain Slavic pathos. The beautiful Russian discipline is present in the quieter pieces, such as the F Minor Sonata, "K. 238" and the F Major Sonata, "K. 17," the two offering a revealing comparison of styles within the change from minor to major scales.

Konstantin Scherbakov, along with Jenö Jandó, and Evgeny Zarafiants, have provided the highlights among highlights thus far in the Naxos Scarlatti Sonata Series. I would not presume that this is the best that the series will have to offer before it is all said and done. I only point these out to illustrate the extremely high level of artistry that has been accomplished in the series. Every installment should be welcomed with anticipation.

Konstantin Scherbakov was born 1963 in Barnaul, Siberia. He has been the recipient of many awards including, first Rachmaninov Competition in 1983. Scherbakov recording of Liszt’s transcriptions of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was awarded the German Critics’ Prize 2005, as well as his recording of Godowsky’s Sonata in E minor, which was awarded the German Critics’ Prize in December 2001. Scherbakov’s recording of Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues of earned him the Classical Award 2001 at Cannes.

Fanfare, July 2005

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Terry Barfoot
MusicWeb International, March 2005

"Domenico Scarlatti as born in 1785, the same year as Bach and Handel, and studied in Naples with his father Alessandro and in Venice with Francesco Gasparini. It was in Venice that he met Handel, who was in the city to advance his understanding of the Italian opera. Thereafter Scarlatti travelled widely working in Rome, London, and Lisbon, before returning home to Naples in 1725. Four years later he moved to Madrid, where he lived for practically all his remaining years.

Scarlatti is chiefly famous for his five hundred and fifty keyboard sonatas, a body of work which developed the expressive range of this musical genre to an extraordinary degree. In common with his exact contemporary Bach, he wrote for the harpsichord with such verve and imagination that his music sounds equally well (if not better) on the modern piano; indeed it has rightly become a standard feature of the repertoire. The structures of the sonatas are considerably varied. The two featured here are both single movements.

This is Volume 7 in Naxos’s Scarlatti project with various pianists. Konstantin Scherbakov has an imaginative and sensitive touch as a performer of this repertoire. His playing is true to the baroque stylistic origins of the music, while also pointing up its emotional possibilities. Excepting ‘purists’ who cannot endure this music on a modern piano, Scherbakov will give the listener the utmost pleasure.

There is a subtle range of repertoire, affording the determined listener the possibility of listening to the complete programme. However, the greatest rewards are likely to be gleaned by taking a grouped few pieces according to circumstances.

The expressive and technical range among these sonatas should not be taken for granted, not least in the longer items such as the extraordinary F major Sonata, the second item on the disc. There are few items in the minor key among this compilation, so that when one does arrive it stands out the more strongly. Perhaps it is for this reason that the substantial Sonata in F minor makes a particular impression, with its darkly expressive nature.

The recording too does justice to Scarlatti, since it is both atmospheric in ambience and clear in detail. This is a useful balance, which allows the details of the music’s imaginative textures to be experienced naturally. Since he has so many sonatas to his credit, it is all too tempting to consider that Scarlatti composed to a formula. In fact nothing could be further from the truth, and this most recent issue in the valuable Naxos collection can therefore be welcomed with enthusiasm."

Classic FM

These baroque Scarlatti classics are given a vigorous interpretation by Konstantin Scherbakov

If you are going to play Baroque music on the modern piano then Scherbakov clearly believes in using its potential to the full. His are full-blooded readings that take these stunning miniatures by the scruff of the neck and don’t let go for a second. The opposite of the fastidious, aloof Michelangeli, Scherbakov sounds as though he is reeling from the excitement of a fresh discovery and compels us to listen along with him. © Classic FM

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4:36:41 PM, 29 November 2015
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