D Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas Vol. 1
Federico Colli (piano)
Chandos CHAN10988 66:36 mins
The astonishing variety of ideas and the ever-changing colours in Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas provide limitless pleasure to performer and listener alike. He wrote them for the harpsichord but pianists long ago took this uniquely distinctive repertoire to their hearts. Federico Colli has chosen a subjective approach to Scarlatti’s sonatas in what looks like the first disc in a projected series. He has presented 16 pieces in groups of four under the heading of ‘chapters’. The groupings are very much his own and do not follow the pairings suggested by the Scarlatti scholar and performer Ralph Kirkpatrick. Colli’s colouring of the music is imaginative, and he is often persuasive in his cantabile playing, as for instance in passages of the D major Sonata, K492 and the charmingly ingenuous A major Sonata, K322. Yet too often elsewhere his gestures seem exaggerated. He likes to make a point by stabbing at individual notes and phrases and, to my ears at least, it too often disturbs the affective linear integrity. The often-played E major Sonata, K380, and the F major Sonata, K525, provide instances of what comes across as being over dramatic. Too often I found myself longing for Marcelle Meyer, Vladimir Horowitz or more recently Angela Hewitt. In short, notwithstanding some splendid moments – the A major Sonata, K39 is one of them – I am happier when the aesthetics of Scarlatti’s time are more closely adhered to.