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Domenico Scarlatti Keyboard Music

I haven't really got the nerve to write much about Scarlatti; many people out there are much more knowledgeable than me. But one or two things are worth pointing out.

Firstly, Scarlatti should really be classed as Spanish since he spent most of his working life in Madrid. There is a small group of Spanish composers (Albero, Scarlatti, Freixanet, Lidon, Soler) who wrote similar music. Sometimes it is so similar that it is impossible to say (just from hearing it) who wrote what. Misattributions are quite common here.

Secondly, Scarlatti's music is really for harpsichord. A lot of it doesn't sound right on the piano.

Some think that certain pieces need "arranging" for piano. In the past, such editions have been printed; the Nin edition of Soler and Longo's Scarlatti are well-known. It is fashionable now (2005) amongst academics to regard these volumes with some derision, but academics are not always the best judges of what people like. (Look at the takeover of radio 3 some years ago by the cacophanists, for example). Most Scarlatti performances in any case are by amateurs, at home, on the piano, and professionals are probably not interested in the sins we commit in private.

It must also be said that Nin took a lot more liberties than Longo in his "arrangements".

If you get the Longo volumes - it's the most well-used set, and Longo doesn't actually alter any of the notes; he just adds phrasing and expression which you are at liberty to ignore.

For those interested in authenticity (if this is possible on the piano) you need the Kirkpatrick edition.

My own view is that you have to judge it piece by piece. Some are so unpianistic they're best avoided unless you have the technique of Glenn Gould. Some are fine as they are. But some sound horribly muddy if they're not thinned out for piano performance.

My own favourites for piano: L (Longo) - 13, 22, 262, 263,270, 272, 275, 276, 283, 292, 295.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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