Scarlatti: Sonatas K 8, 27, 56, 146, 151, 213, 214, 227, 276, 366, 466, 468, 511, 517, 525 & 526

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COMPOSERS: Scarlatti
LABELS: Mirare
ALBUM TITLE: Scarlatti
WORKS: Sonatas K 8, 27, 56, 146, 151, 213, 214, 227, 276, 366, 466, 468, 511, 517, 525 & 526
PERFORMER: Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: MIR 007
Pierre Hantaï, playing a copy of a brightly coloured Italian harpsichord, begins the Third Volume of his Scarlatti sonata survey with one of the composer’s most intimate pieces. The D minor Sonata, K213 is a far cry from the pyrotechnic brilliance that characterises by far the greater number of Scarlatti’s ‘essercizii’. Hantaï discovers its poetry in unhurried and reflective playing of great beauty. The mood is somewhat akin to that of the much more frequently played K208 and is more persuasively captured here than any performance that comes to mind other than those perhaps by Andreas Staier (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi) and Ottavio Dantone (Stradivarius). All three players follow Ralph Kirkpatrick’s suggestion of pairing it with K214 in D major though elsewhere in his recital Hantaï is less receptive than the other two to Kirkpatrick’s own particular pairing theory.

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In striking contrast to the contemplative spirit of K213 is the D major Sonata, K511. Hantaï gives a dazzling account of it, exuding an irrepressible joie de vivre while preserving clarity of texture and demonstrating a cogency of thought. They are virtues which perhaps have particular value in the more brilliantly conceived pieces whose heart is seen too easily by some players to be worn merely on the sleeve. The C minor Sonata, K56 is a case in point where Hantaï, while revelling in Kirkpatrick’s ‘flamboyancy’ nevertheless maintains a high level of interest in its syncopated passages and myriad other expressive subtleties. If the lure of complete sets of Scarlatti’s sonatas is not for you (see review p82) then Hantaï’s ongoing series is likely to afford lasting pleasure. Nicholas Anderson