Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Scarlatti/Soler
LABELS: United
WORKS: Harpsichord Sonatas, K7, K84, K185, K187, K193, K208, K491 & K492; Soler: Harpsichord Sonatas, R36, R72, R88 & R119; Fandango
PERFORMER: Virginia Black (harpsichord)
The Spanish court at Madrid provides the setting for this collection of keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti and his pupil Antonio Soler. During his 28 years in Spain, Scarlatti penned well over 500 keyboard sonatas for his talented royal patron, Maria Barbara. These are highly individual, single-movement pieces (usually performed in pairs, as here), often with a strong Spanish character, and invariably involving an array of keyboard acrobatics: rapid scales, arpeggios and repeated notes, long trills, passages for crossed hands, and so on. Nothing daunted, Virginia Black plays with admirable precision and control, and her accounts of the slower sonatas are particularly sensitive. She is, perhaps, a touch heavy-handed in the D major Sonata, K491, and I felt she could add more colour to the thrilling Hispanicisms of its partner, K492.


The sonatas by Soler recorded here bear the unmistakable hallmark of his teacher. Black gives an intense account of the C minor Sonata, and her reading of the ‘Fandango’ builds up to an impressive climax. This is an enjoyable disc, giving a taste of 18th-century Spanish keyboard writing. For a wider selection of Scarlatti’s sonatas, Andreas Staier’s two discs on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi are highly recommended. Kate Bolton