Scarlatti: Keyboard sonatas

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COMPOSERS: Scarlatti
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Scarlatti
WORKS: Keyboard sonatas
PERFORMER: Yevgeny Sudbin
CATALOGUE NO: CD 1508
The young Russian Yevgeny Sudbin is every inch the concert pianist in his approach to Domenico Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas. The interpretative approach to these satisfying and astonishingly unrepetitive pieces has widened in recent years and, though Scarlatti probably had a harpsichord in mind for almost all of them, they can nowadays also be heard to advantage, and occasionally disadvantage, in recordings with fortepiano, guitar and accordion, as well as the harpsichord and the modern piano.

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There are many delights in Sudbin’s carefully constructed programme, but also a few disappointments. He is at his best in the music that requires the most delicate restraint, and so the paired F minor sonatas (K365 and K466) and B minor sonatas (K27 and K197) come off admirably. So, too, do several others, but pieces such as K435 in D, which are more extrovert in character, suffer intermittently from an aggressive over-emphasis of selected passages. Instances of octave transposition, though infrequent, furthermore create a textural polarity which serves no useful purpose and which is at odds with Scarlatti’s intentions. Similarly, the pianistic flourishes at the conclusion of the C major Sonata (K487) seem uncomfortably misjudged in an 18th-century context. Notwithstanding these reservations, though, there is plenty to enjoy in Sudbin’s expressive, rhythmic and thoughtful playing, virtues which come together rewardingly in the Sonata in B minor (K87). Nicholas Anderson