Cage • D Scarlatti

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Cage,D Scarlatti
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Scarlatti • Cage: Sonatas
WORKS: Cage: Sonatas Nos 1, 10-16; D Scarlatti: Sonatas, K213, K141, K531, K27, K87, K175, K381 & K492
PERFORMER: David Greilsammer (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88883762402

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This terrific CD from David Greilsammer ingeniously interweaves sonatas from Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes with sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, written some 200 years earlier. He’s not the first – Melvyn Tan did the same at the Edinburgh Festival – but he does it with extraordinary musical sensitivity and dramatic flair. Greilsammer adds to the strangeness of experience by making each sonata follow hard on the heels of the previous one. We’re flung between the hard, sun-baked, guitar-soaked urgency of Scarlatti, and the floating, astral strangeness of Cage’s sonatas. These are played on a piano ‘prepared’ with all manner of objects placed between the strings. The soundworld takes on qualities of a toy-piano, or Buddhist temple bells, or a gamelan.

Greilsammer believes there’s a deep affinity between the composers, whom he calls ‘messengers from another world.’ It’s a quiet message; Greilsammer’s touch on the whole is delicate and restrained, even in the grander Cage sonatas. He’s more concerned to savour the tone-colours, pull the rhythms around, and subtly ornament Scarlatti lines. The recording catches every nuance. Not every interpretation is a triumph – Scarlatti’s E major sonata seems over-refined – but most are, as is the disc as a whole.

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Ivan Hewett