german pianist christian zacharias has recorded three discs of scarlatti sonatas -- this, on MDG, and two now owned and issued by EMI -- that are among the finest available. these are idiomatic, transparent, virtuosic and heartfelt performances, as delightful as any i have ever heard, and i found them immediately absorbing and convincing. zacharias strips away most of the baroque ornamentation (often necessary on the harpsichord, especially to sustain long melodic lines), but also rejects all "romantic" interpretive cliches, though quite a lot of modern pianism (pedal, dynamics, phrase shaping, tone color) is subtly used to highlight dramatic contrasts.
to context zacharias's approach, he has the pristine accuracy of andras schiff or vladimir horowitz, all the color and alert touch of ivo pogorelich (but without the mannerisms), the technical facility of pletnev (but without the romantic exaggerations, especially in pedal and phrasing), the emotional clarity of maria tipo, the poetry of dubravka tomsic, and the imagination and sheer musical joy of soyeon lee. unlike alexis weissenberg, his rhythmic pulse is never wavering or ambiguous. his selection of sonatas across the three discs is remarkable for avoiding many of the cliche works while uncovering several gems ... his reading of K.296 F major (on EMI) in particular has a depth and grace i have never heard in a scarlatti work before. the tone and action of the piano in all three discs is marvelous, and the sound quality is uniformly excellent although audibly unequal, and there is a bit of fortissimo clang in the second EMI disc.
as a cd collector i got in the habit of buying all scarlatti discs as a way to better appreciate and understand the pianism of different artists. i bought all three of zacharias's discs as a way to better appreciate and understand domenico scarlatti.