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C. Michael Bailey
Blogcritics, April 2007

Unlikely as it may sound, American Ragtime composer Scott Joplin shares several artistic elements in common with Domenico Scarlatti. Both composed in multiple musical idioms, yet are best known for their keyboard composing. Within that idiom, both composers specialized in short pieces, or miniatures, which have typically been used as practice exercises. For those familiar with Joplin and not Scarlatti, these similarities may serve as a segue into the great Baroque composer’s keyboard repertoire.

Englishman Benjamin Frith approaches Scarlatti from a slightly more romantic angle than previous performers in this series. While on the romantic side, he does not make it into the frank romantic territory of Horowitz or the almost enigmatic post-modernism of Ivo Pogorelich. Firth lightly brushes on his romantic shades, never obscuring the Baroque pastels of the sonatas. This is best illustrated on the slower pieces such as the Sonata in B Flat Major, “K.266,” which has a slightly melancholy lullaby temperament as does the Sonata in A Major, “K.536”. In earlier entries in this series, these characteristics have been best shown in the slower minor-key compositions. Frith’s minor-key performances, such as the Sonata in G Minor, “K.546” and the Sonata in B Minor, “K.227” have less a lullaby quality and more a contemplative one. Solid and straightforward, Benjamin Frith’s Scarlatti is well informed and beautifully colored.

George Pratt
BBC Music Magazine, April 2003

"Benjamin Frith is an inspired choice for the fifth disc in Naxos's cycle, a compelling advocate of the piano, distilling the essence of harpsichord techniques - the sparkle of plucked strings, coruscating articulation, layered contrasts and unaccented ornaments. But this is no mere mimicry; rather, he transports the music to the new medium, capitalising on the piano's ability to pick out a strand, shape dynamics and bathe textures in subtle pedalling, without ever misrepresenting Scarlatti - a disc to convert the most diehard authenticist."

Kevin Sutton
MusicWeb International

"Frith has ample technique to make the busier passagework sound easy. More engaging still is the manner in which he handles the slower, more lyrical works. He knows how to make the piano sing, and his legato, achieved mostly with the fingers and not the right foot, is splendid. To sum it up, his playing is effervescent and lyrical, bringing this music alive in a most enjoyable way.

Keith Anderson provides ample and informative notes, and the sound quality is superb. A worthy addition to any collection."

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