Scarlatti/Rameau

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Scarlatti/Rameau
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Nine Sonatas; Musette en rondeau; Les Cyclopes; Les sauvages
PERFORMER: Eduardo Fernández (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: 436 077-2 DDD
It was his exposure to the vivid harmonies and rhythms of Spain, where he spent the last years of his life as tutor to John V of Portugal’s prodigiously talented daughter, that transformed Domenico Scarlatti’s art. Many of the Italian composer’s 550-plus harpsichord sonatas, on which his fame rests, resound with the strumming of guitars and the click of castanets, and it’s not surprising that virtuoso guitarists from Segovia onwards have borrowed some of them to enrich their own repertory.

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Inevitably, the more limited tonal range of the guitar results in a loss of brilliance and scale, but the more direct contact between performer and strings gives scope for greater expressiveness. Certainly the spirit of Scarlatti’s music is preserved in these transcriptions – which are presumably by Fernández himself, though the accompanying booklet doesn’t specify. And they are expertly played, with the technical difficulties of transferring Scarlatti’s flamboyant style from keyboard to fingerboard convincingly surmounted.

Fernández is consistently spirited and imaginative; incisive in the quicker sonatas, where the guitar’s natural Spanish accent gives added authenticity, and thoughtful in the slower ones, which benefit from the instrument’s more intimate sound.

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The keyboard works of Rameau are uncharted territory for guitarists but the seven appealing transcriptions which make up the other third of the recital offer a strong case for further exploration. David Michaels