COMPOSERS: D Scarlatti
WORKS: Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 4
PERFORMER: Beatrice Long (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553846
Spanish and Portuguese influences on Domenico Scarlatti’s rhythms and melodies are distinctive features of his keyboard sonatas. They contribute much to their colourful diversity and wide expressive range. This new issue, the fourth volume in a projected complete survey, features the young American pianist Beatrice Long. Scarlatti wrote the works for the harpsichord, but their percussive qualities and distinctive poetic idiom are very well suited to the piano.
Long is at her most persuasive in the more delicately inflected pieces, whose heady atmosphere, often one of melancholy, is conveyed with sensibility. Thus it is that pieces like the lyrical, forward-looking C minor Sonata (K99) come off especially well. But it is a pity that she ignores Scarlatti’s clear intention that some of the sonatas, at least, belong in pairs and should be played consecutively. This one is a case in point, being linked with one in C (K100). Some of the brisker, virtuosic sonatas lack the exuberant panache of Marcelle Meyer (EMI) and harpsichordists Andreas Staier (Teldec) and Pierre Hantaï (Virgin).
Long’s tempi are judicious; she keeps well clear of empty showiness, but also avoids anything in the nature of excess sentiment. Yet her playing is neither emotionally detached nor unresponsive to the many small expressive details which lend such charm and distinction to these sonatas. Perhaps she just falls short of the assured, elegant and characterful playing of Anne Queffélec (Warner Apex), but her recital nonetheless stands up well beside the competition. Nicholas Anderson