Friday, April 13, 2007

Music Review: Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 4 by Domenico Scarlatti

Beatrice Long approaches her assignment of Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas with quiet grace and a light touch. Where Jeno Jando’s Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 3 was faithful to the harpsichord performances, Long provides her selections with more air to breath. Long immediately captures the contrasting natures often intended in Scarlatti’s compositions. Though not explicitly stated, Long’s Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 4 offers several such contrasting pieces.

The Sonata in E-Flat Major, K. 474, marked Andante cantabile, was a Horowitz vehicle, where that master played with an authoritative left hand, so authoritative a hand that it almost booms. Horowitz often injected the romantic into his Baroque and Classical pieces and this E-Flat Major sonata is no exception. Where Horowitz’s playing is on the tart side, Long is relaxed, filling in all of the sonic spaces of the composition. Her pacing is slightly slower than Horowitz’s overall. Long leans this sonata against the K. 516 in D Minor, marked Allegretto. Here her playing is staccato tart and precise, with a booming left hand where called for. This is a composition of punctuation where K. 474 is one of narrative.

Another contrasting pair of sonatas is the K. 443 in D Major, marked Allegro and the K. 158 in C Minor, marked Andante. The K. 443 is filled with tumbling figures that resolve in searching passages and marches. Scarlatti produced in the K. 443, a piece full of fleeting feeling. Long captures the swift changes well, expressing them with drama and precision. In contrast the K. 158 offers a slower tempo, a minor key, and a smoother texture while retaining the same range of emotions, albeit muted. Long’s light and careful touch are well employed on this collection, yet another fine addition to Naxos’s on-going Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas series.

Beatrice Long received degrees from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Long trained under teachers that includes the late Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Leon Fleisher, Enrique Graf, Seymour Lipkin, and Fou Ts'ong. Long won the top prizes at the Robert Casadesus International Competition, Taipei International Competition, and the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati. She collaborates with her sister Christina as the Long Duo, performing frequently in broad and unusual repertoire. Long’s previous releases for Naxos include the complete Mazurkas by Alexander Scriabin (Naxos 8.553600)

Sonata in E Major, K.215/L.323/P.281: Andante; Sonata in G minor, K.4/L.390/P.60: Allegro; Sonata in F Major, K.107/L.474/P.98: Allegro Sonata in A minor, K.532/L.223/P.536: Allegro Sonata in E Flat Major, K.474/L.203/P.502: Andante cantabile Sonata in D minor, K.516/L.S12/P.523: Allegretto; Sonata in A minor, K.175/L.429/P.136: Allegro; Sonata in C Major, K.132/L.457/P.295: Cantabile Sonata in F minor, K.519/L.475/P.445: Allegro assai Sonata in B Major, K.262/L.446/P.301: Vivo Sonata in C minor, K.99/L.317/P.135: Allegro; Sonata in D Major, K.443/L.418/P.376: Allegro; Sonata in C minor, K.158/L.4/P.123: Andante; Sonata in E Major, K.403/L.470/P.436: Allegro; Sonata in B Flat Major, K.550/L.S42/P.554: Allegretto; Sonata in G Major, K.470/L.304/P.379: Allegro.

Other releases in this series:

Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 1

Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 2

Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 3

This review was first published in

© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2007