COMPOSERS: Domenico Scarlatti
ALBUM TITLE: D Scarlatti
WORKS: Keyboard Sonatas (selection)
PERFORMER: Yevgeny Sudbin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS BIS-2138
Gabriele D’Annunzio’s description of Domenico Scarlatti’s sonatas as ‘a soft hail of pearls that rush, gleam, resonate, bounce’ could well have inspired the Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin in these sparkling and vivacious accounts. This recording showcases 18 of these gems and Sudbin highlights their endless variety: shimmering studies and stately fugues are laced together with vigorous dances and elegiac reflections. In a soundscape drenched with flamenco rhythms and the exotic colours of the composer’s adopted Spain are heady evocations of gypsy songs and strumming guitars, percussive castanets and goblet drums.
Long immersed in Scarlatti’s music, Sudbin is an ardent advocate, his fearless Russian-school technique making light weather of even the most breakneck writing: rhythms are crisp and buoyant; virtuoso passagework is dashed off with devil-may-care abandon. This is impressive playing, by any standards.
Fleeting moments in the more extrovert pieces are rather too forcefully pummeled, and certain expressive gestures (dynamic swells, romantic ritardandos and elaborate cadential flourishes) might be appropriate for a concert recital of Chopin but seem unnecessary for this intimate Baroque chamber music.
Sudbin is at his most eloquent when the mood is introspective: he draws a limpid bel canto in K208, creates an atmosphere of veiled mystery in K213, and paints the muted colours of K318 with the most delicate of brushstrokes. The generous acoustic highlights the lustrous Steinway sound without muddying textures.
Sudbin’s compatriots Vladimir Horowitz and Mikhail Pletnev are both celebrated Scarlatti exponents, but the younger Russian by no means stands in their shadow.