on 20 February 2011
After his superlative recordings of Rameau, Couperin and Bach it was, perhaps, entirely logical for Alexandre Tharaud to turn his attention to their contemporary, Scarlatti. This is especially the case as Scarlatti's music, perhaps, is most suited to playing on the modern piano.
The present recording certainly does not disappoint. Tharaud's playing is clear, beautifully modulated with a wonderful chiaroscuro and interplay of foreground and background. The melancholy side of Scarlatti is deeply moving, while the virtuosic music is scintillating and there is real resonance and depth in appropriate passages that makes some sonatas quite exciting. Everything is beautifully phrased and finely judged. Just listen - in Sonata K72 - for instance to the way in which a phrase is made to suddenly leap out of the texture in the right hand, followed by a complementary pharase in the left hand bass contrasting with the even balance between in the two-part harmony up to this point. Note how the 'crushing' harmonies - in K29 - with their abundance of appogiaturas and suspensions convey both pathos and forward drive; the dynamics finely varied each time this particular passage re-occurs.
If you want one recording of a selection of Scarlatti sonatas, I would heartily recommend this one. Then go and buy Alexandre Tharaud's recordings of Couperin and Rameau too and prepare to be bowled over!Like looking in to Chapman's Homer!
I agree completely with the enthusiastic reviews here - this is a terrific recording. I love Scott Ross's and Christophe Rousset's recordings on the harpsichord and, after a long search, I am delighted finally to have found a performance of Scarlatti on the piano which I really like.
These pieces form a small selection from Scarlatti's huge output of well over 500 keyboard sonatas. They are very well chosen to give an excellent variety, from the energetically vigorous to the deeply contemplative and the programme as a whole is very rewarding. It is Tharaud's playing, though, which makes this disc something special. He uses the piano's expressive ability to bring out all the depth and nuance in the music with just enough rubato and dynamic variation to show exactly what Scarlatti means in each sonata without using over-emotional gestures which obscure the music and overlay it with misplaced romanticism. His ornamentation is similarly beautifully judged.
This is, I think, exemplary playing of Baroque music on a modern piano. With lovely recorded sound, good notes and attractive presentation this is an excellent disc all round. It has been a revelation to me and has become a firm favourite. Very warmly recommended.
on 30 March 2011
Alexandre Tharaud is, for me, this year's discovery, now up there with Argerich, Pollini, Gilels, and Uchida: dazzling clarity in technique, a feel for structure and the deep human resonances of the music, and all superbly served by his engineers. K8 in G minor is a particular joy.
Scarlatti is not quite one of the great indispensables - Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin - but he is a considerable artist. Merci, Maitre Tharaud.