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CD Review

Domenico Scarlatti

Keyboard Sonatas, Volume 3

  • Sonata in G Major, K. 201 (L. 129/P. 252)
  • Sonata in D minor K. 10 (L. 370/P. 66)
  • Sonata in B Major, K. 261 (L. 148/P. 300)
  • Sonata in B Flat Major, K. 70 (L. 50/P. 21)
  • Sonata in D minor K. 444 (L. 420/P. 441)
  • Sonata in A minor K. 54 (L. 241/P. 147)
  • Sonata in A Major, K. 537 (L. 293/P. 541)
  • Sonata in F Sharp minor K. 447 (L. 294/P. 191)
  • Sonata in E Major, K. 46 (L. 25/P. 179)
  • Sonata in A Major, K. 212 (L. 135/P. 155)
  • Sonata in E minor K. 203 (L. 380/P. 96)
  • Sonata in G Major, K. 105 (L. 204/P. 90)
  • Sonata in C minor K. 126 (L. 402/P. 128)
  • Sonata in F Major, K. 525 (L. 188/P. 529)
  • Sonata in F minor K. 69 (L. 382/P. 42)
  • Sonata in D Major, K. 119 (L. 415/P. 217)
Jenő Jandó, piano
Naxos 8.555047
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I missed the first two volumes in this series of the complete keyboard sonatas of Scarlatti, which, like many of Naxos' large projects, involve different pianists. In the first Russian émigré Eteri Andjaparidze played a selection of seventeen sonatas, while in the second Michael Lewin performed nineteen. The fourth volume in this series has recently been issued too, and features pianist Beatrice Long in sixteen sonatas. Not to add to the confusion here, but Naxos had earlier released two volumes of Scarlatti sonatas, apparently not as part of this series, by Hae-won Chang. All these artists perform the works on piano.

Here, Hungarian Jenő Jandó, one of those rare pianists whose repertory encompasses large chunks from almost every period of keyboard composition, turns in splendid work, showing an artistic sensibility that suggests he could perhaps rank with the finest Scarlatti interpreters of this or any age. He is well known for his fine Bartók recordings, which include compelling performances of the three concertos and Mikrokosmos. Jandó is also one of several pianists involved in the Naxos complete series of the piano music of Franz Liszt. And he has made numerous other recordings of works by an array of composers. Here, in the often tricky keyboard music of Scarlatti he shines as brightly as almost anyone I've heard.

The first three sonatas here are brimming with color and personality. Jandó finds just the right accenting touch and tempo to enliven Scarlatti's rhythms in the G Major (K. 201), and plays those downward swoops in the D minor (K. 10) with such style and color. He deftly captures the more mellow and ethereal character of the A minor (K. 54), as well as the playful, jaunty manner of the A Major (K. 537). The one big sonata in this collection, at least by Scarlattian standards, is the C minor (K. 126) – having a duration of 8:15 – and Jandó incisively catches the subtleties of its changing moods with a sense for both contrast and keyboard color.

In sum, the playing here is excellent. I would prefer these performances to even some of the better harpsichord renditions of recent times, which include impressive efforts by Elaine Comparone and Elaine Thornburgh, both on Lyrichord. Naxos provides vivid sound and highly informative notes that include manuscript information on each sonata. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2002, Robert Cummings