Pierre Hantaï performs Scarlatti Sonatas for Harpsichord

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COMPOSERS: D Scarlatti
LABELS: Mirare
ALBUM TITLE: D Scarlatti
WORKS: Sonatas, Vol. 4: K 45, 133, 144, 201, 204a, 208, 212, 247, 279, 302, 381, 402, 403, 405, 456, 457 & 533
PERFORMER: Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord)


After a gap of ten years Pierre Hantaï resumes his stimulating survey of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas on the Mirare label with Volume 4. The 17 pieces featured here project the broad and colourful spectrum of the composer’s unique tonal palette which owes distinction, in part at least, to its stylistically transitional character. Hantaï responds sensitively to the myriad expressive nuances of these single-movement Sonatas, overlooking none of their subtleties and underlining their striking affective contrasts. On one hand, for instance, there’s the sparkling A major Sonata, K212, with its percussive element; on the other, there’s the poetically reflective G major Sonata, K144. In this last-mentioned piece Hantaï captures with delicacy that elusive Scarlattian rhetoric which unfailingly stirs our imagination and touches our sensibilities.

The lyrical and somewhat melancholy Sonata in A major, K208 – which, incidentally, Hantaï includes on two of his previous discs – makes an alluring introduction to a ceaselessly absorbing repertoire. Readers should not be deterred by the sheer number of Scarlatti keyboard sonatas, for no one piece is typical. For instance, the multi-sectional F minor Sonata, K204a is quite different from the folk-like, innocent charm of the A major, K279. The harpsichord, modelled on a mid-18th century German instrument, is brightly recorded.

Nicholas Anderson


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