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8.573590 - SCARLATTI, D.: Keyboard Sonatas (Complete), Vol. 19 (Filipec)

Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757)
Complete Sonatas Vol. 19


Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples in 1685, sixth of the ten children of the composer Alessandro Scarlatti, Sicilian by birth and chiefly responsible for the early development of Neapolitan opera. The Scarlatti family had extensive involvement in music both in Rome and in Naples, where Alessandro Scarlatti became maestro di cappella to the Spanish viceroy in 1684. Domenico Scarlatti started his public career in 1701 under his father’s aegis as organist and composer in the vice-regal chapel. The following year father and son took leave of absence to explore the possibilities of employment in Florence, and Alessandro was later to exercise paternal authority by sending his son to Venice, where he remained for some four years. In 1709 Domenico entered the service of the exiled Queen of Poland, Maria Casimira, in Rome, there meeting and playing against Handel in a keyboard contest, in which the latter was declared the better organist and Scarlatti the better harpsichordist. It has been suggested that he spent a period from 1719 in Palermo, but his earlier connection with the Portuguese embassy in Rome led him before long to Lisbon, where he became music-master to the children of the royal family. This employment took him in 1728 to Madrid, when his pupil the Infanta Maria Barbara married the heir to the Spanish throne. Scarlatti apparently remained there for the rest of his life, his most considerable achievement the composition of some hundreds of single-movement sonatas or exercises, designed largely for the use of the Infanta, who became Queen of Spain in 1746.

The keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti survive in part in a number of eighteenth century manuscripts, some clearly from the collection of Queen Maria Barbara, possibly bequeathed to the great Italian castrato Farinelli, who was employed at the Spanish court, and now in Venice. Various sets of sonatas were published during the composer’s lifetime, including a set of thirty issued, seemingly, in London in 1738, and 42 published in London by Thomas Roseingrave in 1739, including the thirty already available from the earlier publication. In more recent times the sonatas were edited by Alessandro Longo, who provided the numerical listing under L, and in 1953 the American harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick offered a new listing, distinguished by the letter K. Stylistic grounds have suggested a further changed listing by Giorgio Pestelli, under the letter P, and proposing a new chronology, while Emilia Fadini, in a complete edition for Ricordi, offers a further re-ordering, based in part on the Venice volumes.

Kirkpatrick’s listing of the sonatas, based on the chronological order of the available sources, starts with the thirty Essercizi per gravicembalo offered for sale in early 1739 by Adamo Scola, ‘Musick Master in Vine Street, near Swallow Street, Piccadilly’. The publication included a dedication in Italian to the King of Portugal and a prefatory note for the purchaser, denying serious intention and modestly suggesting rather ‘lo scherzo ingegnoso dell’Arte’. The listing continues primarily with the Venice volumes, in chronological order of compilation, if not necessarily of composition.

 1  The Sonata in B flat major, K.442/L.319/P.229, is included in the tenth volume of the sonatas preserved in Venice, dated 1755. Marked Allegro, it it is an example of perpetual motion, with wide leaps and syncopation. Scale pasages add to the brilliance of the sonata.

 2  The perpetual motion of the Sonata in G minor, K476/L.340/P.427, is only broken in the opening passage of the repeated second half. Marked Allegro, it is included in the eleventh Venice volume of Scarlatti sonatas, dated 1756.

 3  The Sonata in G major, K.240/L.Supp.29/P.368, is preserved in the fourth of the Venice volumes, dated 1753. Longer than most of the sonatas, it brings unusual modulations, with shifts into the minor.

 4  The Sonata in G minor, K.373/L.98/P.158, is included in the eighth Venice collection, dated to 1754, and is marked Presto e fugato. It opens with a rapid descending scale, answered at once at the octave by the lower part. Scale passages including a particular use of the chromatic scale, first heard to be imitated at the octave by the lower voice.

 5  The primary source for the Sonata in G major, K.391/L.79/P.364, is found in the ninth Venice volume of 1754. Although it lacks the title in the Venice manuscript, it is described in the Parma collection as a Minuet. It offers, in its course, distant echoing phrases.

 6  The Sonata in B flat major, K.411/L.69/P.351, is from the same Venice volume, in triple metre and marked Allegro. A Minuet in all but name, the sonata offers descending and ascending arpeggios

 7  The Sonata in F major, K.482/L.435/P.356, appears in the eleventh Venice volume, dated 1756. Marked Allegrissimo, it offers a series of repeated short phrases and includes passages of handcrossing.

 8  The Sonata in C major, K.327/L.152/P.399, is included in the seventh Venice volume, dated 1754. It is marked Allegro and makes full use of arpeggios, with wide leaps in the lower part.

 9  The primary source of the Sonata in C major, K.486/L.455/P.515, is the twelfth Venice volume of 1756. It makes constant use of scales and arpeggios in its rapid progress, and offers interesting modulation at its heart.

 10  The Sonata in G major, K.432/L.288/P.288, is found in the tenth Venice volume, dated 1755. It is in the style of a toccata, with modulations to the minor, as it proceeds.

 11  The Sonata in C major, K.399/L.274/P.458, is included in the ninth Venice volume, dated 1754. Marked Allegro, it offers contrasting colours, as one phrase echoes another.

 12  From the third Venice volume of 1753 comes the Sonata in A major, K.222/L.209/P.236, marked Vivo and in 6/8, a moto perpetuo.

 13  The Sonata in A major, K.499/L.193/P.477, has its primary source in the twelfth Venice volume of 1756. Marked Andante, the sonata is in marked contrast to the preceding work. There are wide leaps for the left hand and passages that suggest elements of Spanish tradition.

 14  The primary source of the Sonata in D major, K.353/L.313/P.401, is the seventh Venice volume, dated 1754. Marked Allegro, it brings various modulations and, interesting rhythmic elements.

 15  The Sonata in A major, K.286/L.394/P.410, marked Allegro, is included in the fifth Venice volume, dated 1753. It has the continuing rhythm of a gigue.

 16  The Sonata in D minor, K.294/L.67/P.470, is from the fifth Venice volume of 1753. It is marked Andante and brings contrasts of minor and major, and of rapid figuration.

 17  The Sonata in D major, K.359/L.448/P.425, found in the eighth of the Venice volumes, dated 1754, has the tempo direction Allegrissimo. In 3/8, it is impelled forward by its opening rhythm.

 18  The Sonata in B minor, K.497/L.146/P.357, has its primary source in the twelfth Venice volume, dated 1756. Polyphonic in form, it makes telling use of repeated notes and divided octaves.

 19  The Sonata in B major, K.244/L.348/P.298, is found in the fourth of the Venice volumes, dated 1753. The choice of key is unusual for Scarlatti and there are only five sonatas with five sharps in the key signature. The sonata explores remoter keys during its rapid progress.

 20  The Sonata in E minor, K.292/L.24/P.223, is included in the fifth Venice volume of 1753. It is marked Allegro and is in 3/8. The sonata makes constant use of the rhythmic motif heard in the first bar.

 21  The present recording ends with the Sonata in G major, K.454/L.184/P.423, marked Andante spiritoso and preserved in the eleventh Venice volume of 1756. The sonata is pervaded by echoes of a Spanish dance rhythm, a framework for passages of virtuosity, with rapid rippling scales and arpeggios in both hands.

Keith Anderson

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