[SACD-R][OF] Domenico Scarlatti - Sonatas (arr. for Guitar) - Stephen Marchionda - 2008/2009 (Classical)

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Domenico Scarlatti - Sonatas (arr. for Guitar)
Stephen Marchionda

Жанр: Classical
Год записи материала: 2008
Год выпуска диска: 2009
Производитель диска: Germany - MDG Gold - MDG 903-1587-6
Аудио кодек: DST 2.0, 5.1
Тип рипа: image (ISO)
Битрейт аудио: 2,8224 MHz
Продолжительность: 69:08
1. Sonata in G major, K 449/L 444
2. Sonata in G minor, K 450/L 338
3. Sonata in D minor, K 213/L 108
4. Sonata in A minor, K 175/L 429
5. Sonata in C major, K 513/L S3
6. Sonata in E minor, K 402/L 427
7. Sonata in E major, K 403/L 470
8. Sonata in F minor, K 462/L 438
9. Sonata in E flat major, K 474/L 203
10. Sonata in E flat major, K 475/L 220
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) was prepared for his musical career at a very early age, utlimately becoming known Europe-wide as a great harpsichordist, at least the equal of Handel. A Neopolitan, he spent most of this career in the Iberian Peninsula, first in the employ of King John V at Lisbon (1719-1729) and then he followed Maria Barbara, one of his most gifted Royal pupils to the Spanish court in Seville and Madrid after her marriage to the Spanish Infanta. He stayed as a much valued member of the Royal Household until his death in 1757.
Scarlatti began to write harpsichord pieces at Lisbon, and some 555 pieces have come down to us. Scarlatti called them Essercizi ("Exercises"), and when published they were widely distributed and sensational. Nowadays they are called sonatas, and were forerunners of the instrumental sonatas of the Classical movement. Scarlatti's were in a single movement, with contrasting episodes, some or all of which were repeated and/or modified. They are often played nowadays on the piano.
The harpsichord is a plucked instrument, so it is not surprising that some transcriptions for guitar have been made. However, after 10 years of his engagement with the composer, Stephen Marchionda has made a more systematic approach of rendering some of these sonatas into guitar-friendly versions. He was attracted by the many very obvious guitar imitations which Scarlatti put into his works, and also by the wide variety of Spanish references which they contain. Ralph Kirkpatrick, an expert on Scarlatti and collator of his music (The Kk numbers,) observed that there is hardly an aspect of Spanish life, of Spanish popular music and dance, that has not found itself a place in the microcosm that Scarlatti created with this sonatas.
Marchionda, a prominent, prize-winning exponent of the Spanish guitar, tells us in the disc's booklet that he strove to maintain the qualities that makes these sonatas special. Particular attention was given to his voicing, dissonances, parallel 4th and 5ths in the basses and extensive ornamentation. In the end, there were very few notes that he was forced to drop in the sonatas which he chose for transcription.
And the result is magnificent. The guitar moves us into a different world, away from the formality and glitter of the Baroque style into an timeless, intensely expressive and human one. This comes about because of the ability of the guitar to change its dynamics much more subtly than the harpsichord, and because the fingers pluck the strings directly, so subtle phrasing is much more natural. Stylish though they are, the transcriptions become innately more Romantic, even when played with a good Baroque style. In one sense, Scarlatti would have approved, for he himself struggled to get beyond Baroque style and taught his pupils how to break its rules.
There are 10 sonatas on this disc, only one of which (Kk 213 in D minor) is also on Kirkpatrick's Harpsichord selection (Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonatas - Kirkpatrick). Kirkpatrick's style is somewhat academic, and he does not play many (or any) repeats, add different ornament to repeats or change tone colour with the available registrations on his instrument. By comparison to the somewhat fatiguing brightness of the harpsichord, Marchionda takes every repeat opportunity, varying both tone colour and ornamentation, so Kirkpatrick's 3'44" becomes 7'58". The result is a deeply touching pathos, with lighter-limned interludes, with a sound that is warm and wide-ranging.
Put simply, these sonatas are simply a joy to listen to, when played with such flair and deft expressive means. Each one has a distinct character, especially those which contain obvious Spanish content. Added to this is a near perfect recording of Marchionda's 6 string Antonio Montero guitar, with realism usually found only at a recital. The recording venue is frequently used for guitar concerts, and with its airy but intimate acoustic, the music seems to be played in one's own listening room. Marchionda does make quite a few string whistles, more than his once-teacher Julian Bream produces, but these are not distracting, and rather add to the sense of performer-presence. Not being set up for the 2+2+2 system, I used my usual 5.1 system, and even so I have no hesitation in giving the disc top marks for sonics.
A totally desirable disc for any guitar-lover's collection, and one which I think would be ideal for beginners in Scarlatti's music.
This glorious recording takes me back to some of the best days in my musical memory. The excellence of the music, the mastery of the playing, and the outstanding SACD audio engineering together come as close as I can remember to some live recitals I’ve heard in Madrid or Barcelona. This album of harpsichord sonatas transcribed by solo guitarist Stephen Marchionda is a gem. In particular, the reproduction of the guitar is superlative. It isn’t hard to hear the stand-out difference a good SACD recording makes. The smallest performance details are there without upstaging the content of the music, as sometimes happens. Particularly, the dynamic range, or the difference between very soft and very loud, and the ability to jump from one to the other, places this CD-compatible recording in the highest rank. I listen to many review CDs late at night (at my computer), through my separate headphone rig (so my household can sleep), which is like examining things under a microscope. I am not often pleasantly surprised, or startled. This CD did both.
Domenico Scarlatti’s music is simply a pleasure. Scarlatti has become known for bringing freedom of style to harpsichord playing, and guitarist Marchionda notes these sonatas are “playful and joyful” as well as “profoundly expressive.” He’ll get no argument from me. Somehow, he inserts little performance jokes or other unexpected reversals into each sonata for the amusement of the general public as well as guitar players and guitar fans. The American Marchionda’s joyful playing is period-perfect, though he’s becoming equally known for his affinity for contemporary music, and is equally comfortable premiering new compositions.
Marchionda’s guitar skills and musicianship are equal to anyone’s, and he brings Scarlatti’s goodies to the audience with style and grace, though I’d have enjoyed the inclusion of the Sonata in C, K 159. Marchionda has a considerable résumé, having won just about all the prizes available to a classical guitarist, and performed with symphony orchestras in many of the major cities of the U.S. and the E.U. He has lived in New York, London, and Granada, and currently resides in Barcelona. For more about him, go to StephenMarchionda.com. If you go there, and if you click on the reviews, you will read a list of valentines seldom matched. Rather than disagree with the prevailing wisdom, I’ll give them no argument. Marchionda is a guitar community treasure. If you’re a guitar-head and don’t know his work, you ought to. If you know his work, don’t ignore this CD.
These Domenico Scarlatti compositions are ever more pleasing than some others’ brooding or yearning. Marchionda plays them with great élan. And, lest I forget, the audio engineering of Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm deserves at least equal billing and praise. Kudos to all involved. Great job. Well done. Most highly recommended.
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