ALBUM TITLE: Scarlatti: Harpsichord Sonatas
WORKS: Sonatas K25, 58, 84, 135, 215, 216, 239, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 314, 370, 371
PERFORMER: Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: MIR 9920
The astonishing technical variety and wide emotional range contained in Domenico Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas make each and every encounter a rewarding adventure in which the listener is seldom left untouched. This is Pierre Hantaï’s third solo disc of Scarlatti’s sonatas though only the second in his current series for the Mirare label. It contains several pieces less frequently performed than others and with which many readers may find themselves unfamiliar. The first item, in fact, is one of only seven sonatas of Scarlatti’s that is a straightforward fugue. It is an uncharacteristically didactic piece, even a shade austere compared to the rest of Hantaï’s recital which contains a kaleidoscope of colourful images. What Hantaï seems to be emphasising in his choice is that elusive, somewhat abstracted improvisatory quality present in so many of the pieces and of which the Sonata in E major K 215 provides a well-sustained example.
Generally speaking, Hantaï follows Ralph Kirkpatrick’s suggestion that Scarlatti probably intended to group his sonatas into pairs or occasionally threes according to key. Hantaï’s playing is wonderfully responsive to the wealth of expressive nuance though, in the case of the beautiful F sharp minor Sonata, K 25, whose idiom recalls Couperin’s L’Epineuse in the same key, he sounds uncharacteristically matter-of-fact. That apart, this is playing of a very high order. Nicholas Anderson