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CD Review

Domenico Scarlatti

Complete Keyboard Sonatas

Volume 13
  • Sonata in A Major, K.65/L.195/P.142
  • Sonata in D Major, K.160/L.15/P.131
  • Sonata in G Major, K.125/L.487/P.152
  • Sonata in E Minor, K.232/L.62/P.317
  • Sonata in D Major, K.416/L.149/P.454
  • Sonata in G Major, K.71/L.81/P.17
  • Sonata in D Major, K.164/L.59/P.274
  • Sonata in G minor, K.35/L.386/P.20
  • Sonata in D Major, K.534/L.11/P.538
  • Sonata in C minor, K.22/L.360/P.78
  • Sonata in F Major, K.205/L.S23/P.171
  • Sonata in B Flat Major, K.529/L.327/P.533
  • Sonata in D Major, K.491/L.164/P.484
  • Sonata in B minor, K.197/L.147/P.124
  • Sonata in E Major, K.28/L.373/P.84
  • Sonata in C minor, K.363/L.160/P.104
Chu-Fang Huang, piano
Naxos 8.572107
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As I mentioned in my recent notice of Vol. 12 in this Naxos series (8.570745), I had previously reviewed the first eight volumes, but missed Nos. 9, 10 and 11. Each issue has featured a different artist, and Vol. 13 here continues that practice with talented Chinese pianist, Chu-Fang Huang. A Cliburn finalist and winner of the 2005 Cleveland International Piano Competition and 2006 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, she appears to have the technique and interpretive acumen to go far in her career.

Pick any sonata here and you'll notice Ms. Huang's dynamics, tempo choices and sense for melodic flow are always tasteful and fully convincing. She seems to have put an awful lot of thought into these performances. Try her reading of the D Major, K. 534 (track 9), where trills abound. Notice how she deftly infuses the trills with playfulness here and delicacy there, and how they burst with joy one moment and withdraw into intimacy the next.

The ensuing sonata, in C minor, K. 22, is given a busyness and drive that perfectly convey its energetic and mostly earnest character. Her performance of the B Flat Major sonata, K. 529 (track 12), is utterly thrilling both for its breathless tempos and adroitly contrasted dynamics. As the reader might notice, I'm spending more time on the sonatas from the second half of this disc, and I won't hide my preference for them. Track 13 is another gem here, the D Major, K. 491, and again Ms. Huang's performance is so skillful: melodic phrases begin mostly quietly and blossom via subtly graded dynamics into a fullness of beauty that is utterly arresting. Bravo!

The whole disc is chock full of great music and great performances, even if I favor the later tracks on it. The sound reproduction is excellent, too. Here is yet another winner in the series, then. I hope we hear more from Ms. Huang. Highly recommended!

Copyright © 2010, Robert Cummings