SEON - RCA Red Seal
1 LP - RL 30334 - (p) 1979
1 CD - SBK 60099 - (c) 1998


Domenico SCARLATTI (1756-1791) Sonata in A minor, K 3
3' 00" A1

Sonatas in F-Minor, K 184 / 183

7' 33" A2

Sonata in B Minor, K 227

3' 37" A3

Sonatas in F minor, K 238 / 239
6' 58" A4

Sonata in D Minor, K 52
4' 18" A5

Sonatas in E-flat Major, K 192 / 193

7' 20" B1

Sonatas in A Major, K 208 / 209
6' 18" B2

Sonataa in E-flat Major, K 252 / 253
6' 28" B3

Sonata in D Minor, K 191

2' 20" B4

Gustav Leonhardt, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, Bremen, after J. D. Dulcken, Antwerp, 1962)


Luogo e data di registrazione
Haarlem (Holland) - Settembre 1978

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Recording Supervisor
Wolf Erichson

Recording Engineer

Dieter Thomsen

Prima Edizione LP
Seon (RCA Red Seal) | RL 30334 | 1 LP - durata 48' 36" | (p) 1979 | ANA

Edizione CD
Sony | SBK 60099 | 1 CD - durata 48' 36" | (c) 1998 | ADD

Original Cover

Foto SEON / D. Thomsen


Domenico Scarlatti discovered his musical identity relatively late in life. Born in Naples, the son of the famous opera composer Alessandro Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti tended at first to be overshadowed wed as a composer by his great father. The work he wrote while holding an official music in Rome reveal little that is original. It was only when he finally left Italy and broke free from the restraints of tradition that his unique creative personality began to take shape.
For nearly ten years Domenico Scarlatti was employed at the court of Joāos V, King of portugal, as court conductor and music teacher to the talented young Princess Maria Barbara. When, in 1729, at the age of 18, his young pupil married the Spanish infante, Fernando VI, she took her "true and devoted music-master" with her to Spain. It was here finally, in 1738, that his "Essercizi per Gravicembalo" was published, a work which established his fame as a composer for the harpsichord. In the years that followed, over 500 sonatas were added to this first collection. Two richly ornamental manuscripts were prepared in 1742 and in 1749, presumably by royal command, and between 1752 and 1757 Queen Maria Barbara had a further 13-volume collection of Scarlatti's sonatas copied and splendidly bound in Morocco leather. In 1835 this "royal" collection was acquired by the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice. Together with the "Essercizi" these 15 magnificent volumes form the main resource of Scarlatti's harpsichord works. In the preface to his "Essercizi" Scarlatti requested that one should not look for profound scholarship in his sonatas, but rather "lo scherzo ingegnoso dell'arte,", ingenious play. A great zest for life and spirit of enjoyment are reflected in these finely polished gems of Mediterranean brilliance and clarity. Scarlatti bever ventures from his binary-form scheme for any of his single-movement sonatas, though he does evolve various modifications of the form. Despite this restriction the sonatas, 555 in all, prove to be of infinite variety, abounding in imaginative ideas, a veritable microcosm of moods. Already in the earlierst sonatas Scarlatti created a style of keyboard writing that was extremely original. He managed to blend together ideas taken from Italian harpsichord music, Italian opera and Iberian folkmusic and also developed a sparkling virtuoso style (with great leaps, rapid crossing back and forth of the hands, and strings of trills) which demanded exceptionally high technical skill of the performer.
The Sonata in A minor K. 3 (L. 378) is one of the early 1738 "Essercizi", a study rich in chromaticism and chords of the diminished seventh. The legato D minor Sonata K. 52 (L. 267) is also a relatively early piece. In the B minor Sonata K. 227 (L. 347) Scarlatti experiments with frequent changes of beat from 2/4 to (Napolitan) 3/8 time. Indeed, quite a number of the sonatas are obvious attemps to incorporate Iberian folkmusic. Ralph Kirkpatrick regards the A major Sonata K. 208 (L. 238), for instance, as flamenco music for the royal apartments, and in the Sonata in A major K. 209 (L. 428) he reckons one can clearly detect not only the ubiquitous castanets but also stamping heels and whirring feet. Strains of a Portuguese folksong from Estremadura can be found in the Sonata in F minor K. 238 (L. 27). Although a nobleman - he was knighted in 1738 - Scarlatti must often have mixed with the 2carters, muleteers and other common folk" (Dr. Charles Burney) and listened to their music. - In the later manuscripts, incidentally, the sonatas are frequently arranged in pairs, which arrangement we have kept to in this recording.
Finally a few comments on the interest in Scarlatti's music since the eighteenth century. Domenico Scarlatti's work by no means fell into obscurity after his death. The first great champion of his music in the 19th century was Abbot Santini, in whose house in Rome Franz Liszt played many of his sonatas. In 1839 Carl Czerny edited a collection of 200 Scarlatti sonatas, and 25 years later Hans von Bülow published 18 selected sonatas (with adaptations). Brahms, a great admirer of Scarlatti, quotes one of his motives in his Goethe song "Unüberwindlich". The Scarlatti tradition remained intact throughout the 19th century, but it was not until the present century that a complete edition of his sonatas was prepared. This task was first undertaken by Alessandro Longo during the years 1906-1937. In 1953 Ralph Kirkpatrick presented his now standard biography of the composer, incorporating a catalogue of his works. Unlike the Longo numbers the Kirkpatrick numbers give us an approximation of the chronological
Hans Christoph Worbs
English translation by Avril Watts