Nearly 78 minutes of Scarlatti on guitar might strike some listeners – and even some players and guitar lovers – as too much of a good thing. I tend to feel that way even about Scarlatti on the keyboard! But, even if such a program is less than ideal for continuous listening, there's no question that the composer works just as well on guitar as anywhere else. As I've written previously about some of these pieces, an intelligent arrangement goes a long way in making these works feel like a natural fit for the instrument. The arrangements here, split pretty evenly between guitarist Alberto Mesirca and one Wolfgang Lendle, are almost wholly successful.
Curiously, with the exception of K. 14, the whole program is in number-order, composition wise. Even more curiously, it works. The contrasts are nice, and one never feels like they are listening to the same piece over and over. Sure, from a musical standpoint the works are formulaic two-part sonatas – even the notes admit that – but there's no question that "it ain't broke, so don't fix it" applies pretty well here. None of this would matter if Mesirca wasn't an excellent guitarist. To my ears, he certainly is. I like the great attention to detail and the real effort that went into creating a varied recital. Mesirca listened to old records of Wanda Landowska as a child, and he does seem to have let it influence some of his arrangements in the sense they are wholly idiomatic but also quite individual. The recorded sound also strikes me as warm and spacious without picking up too much obnoxious performance noise.
Paladino Music is partially run by cellist Martin Rummel, who has recorded for Naxos and other labels. He seems to have a keen interest in chamber music like this, and I wholeheartedly support investigating this dis, as well as the label's other projects. I do wish that – despite informative notes and classy packaging – there was more information on Lendle and Mesirca's work as a whole. Also, the jewel case says nothing about which sonatas are here, an unfortunate decision. Still, despite my reservations and suggestion that you don't enjoy the whole program in one sitting, this is an important and beautiful disc.
Copyright © 2016, Brian Wigman