Author Topic: Mini-blind comparison: Scarlatti K27 on piano  (Read 4027 times)

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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Mini-blind comparison: Scarlatti K27 on piano
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2017, 05:23:11 AM »
1 - At first I wasn't sure if I liked this take - the opening is a little brusque and inflexible - but I liked it more as time got on and as the pianist showed willingness to differentiate dynamics (I'm a fan of pianists fully exploiting their instruments' dynamic ranges, period practice be damned!).
2 - This might be more my bag - the clipped phrasing, the slightly fleeter fingers, the way that the pianist relaxes into the major-key melody in a more romanticized way. I think with Scarlatti more than most composers, because of the HUGE variety of choices you need to make in interpretation (are you going to try to imitate the harpsichord? are you going to throw HIP out the window?), you will see these answers reflecting our personalities...mine is more on the pianistic side so I like this one. Does the pianist add an extra bass note on the final chord? Pretty sure that is an edit to the text...which suggests maybe this is Pletnev or someone like that.
3 - Not sure I have heard this sonata before. It reminds me a bit of K. 141 (which we will be hearing later!). The pianist sounds like someone whose Scarlatti I will enjoy in further exploration.
4 - Oh wow, much slower and more meditative, more what I am used to. In fact I might own this one. It's utterly lovely, a poetic, nocturnal take where the repetitions are emphasized rather than differentiated and the result can be hypnotic (like at 0:21-0:30). As much as I enjoyed 2, this one is my favorite of the three so far, and they have almost nothing in common.
5 - Some serious mustard on that first phrase - I assume that the pianist went unusually staccato here to differentiate his/her take. The staccato is applied inconsistently through the rest of the piece, certainly not at the repeat, so it comes across more as an affectation than an integral part of the interpretation. Pity - otherwise lot of good stuff in this, which maybe is not so different from 2?
6 - Another sonata not very familiar to me. I'm afraid here it comes across rather monotonous and dirgelike - it always does take a bit of extra artistry to sell me on Scarlatti's slow, long sonatas, maybe a sign of my attention span :(
7 - Exactly the opposite of #5, this pianist instead very archly/self-awarely slows down that first phrase and then plays the rest of the piece fairly quickly. Unflattering bright sound quality. At least they're consistent at the repeat, but it just makes the self-consciousness more obvious. It's better to indulge that opening phrase with a softer touch, rather than a slower/faster one.
8 - Sounds like early 80s digital sound. Generally like it, maybe I am getting to listener fatigue but I found not much to comment on here either way - feels very middle of the road. If someone, maybe a pianist learning the piece, asked me what a Normal performance of the sonata sounds like, I'd direct them to this one as representing solid mainstream interpretation.
9 - Oh my goodness that is some insanely fast repeated note action. Nowadays Yevgeny Sudbin can do that too. Exciting to hear, I'm far from sure that the piece benefits from being played quickly, but it is fun to hear once, especially since this was presumably an encore at the end of a rousing concert. Perfect for that context.

Thanks Brian - I too really enjoyed reading your comments.  Between the two of you there's little to separate the 6 K27s (though you both agree they have their points of difference) - with the exception of No.7 who was ranked last by both of you.  We need a tie-breaker to sort this out!

Regarding No.6 (K8) which you felt was dirgelike, there is a brief discussion of K8 on YouTube where it is indeed considered to be  :blank: a dirge.
here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K0fxivBhr0
starting 8 minutes in. (Prior to that there is some discussion of K27, and then right at the end there is a brief reference to K141.)  Warning - Claire Wachter, the pundit and pianist here, seems to be unashamedly of the 'Scarlatti as proto-Romantic' school of thought.  :-\

Regarding No.9 (K141), elsewhere on YouTube there is a video of the same artist playing the same (final) encore at the same speed - but 20 years on from when the recording was made!  Actually the video is better, with fewer fluffed notes.  Who knows how many other encores in between?| Talk about fast twitch muscle memory!  >:D

Regarding No.3 (K476) yes this sonata seems to be rarely recorded and surely deserves to be heard more - provided that is, the performer can hack it ???  This pianist doesn't appear to have recorded K27 but has recorded this very enjoyable recent album featuring a mix of well-known and lesser-known Sonatas, unfortunately for me mostly in the major key, where I tend to gravitate towards collections biassed the other way - miserable old fool that I am  :-X
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 05:34:53 AM by aukhawk »

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Mini-blind comparison: Scarlatti K27 on piano
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2017, 02:40:23 AM »
OK, the reveal -
First the 6 K27s ... (recording/issue dates may be approximate) ...

No.1 was Zhu Xiao-Mei (1998)  ukrneal's 1st choice.
No.2 was Yevgeny Sudbin (2005)
No.4 was Anne Queffélec (2015) the more recent of her two(?) recordings.  Brian's 1st choice.
No.5 was Mikhail Pletnev (1995) the oldest of these six recordings
No.7 was Katia Braunschweiler (2017) the newest, this recording only became available two or three days before I started this thread.
No.8 was Véronique Bonnecaze (2015)

My own thoughts - of these I like Sudbin best, although in this company he is surprisingly one of the quicker ones, and I'd like to hear him play it slower. The much slower, lyrical version by Queffélec is certainly very appealing as well. Queffélec can be found on YouTube playing K27 here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTTlaOADxaA


   


Pletnev and to a lesser extent Zhu sound rather dull and prosaic to me, in this company.  The sound engineering for Braunschweiler is poor, for a new release, it's like a garage recording.  Vanity project maybe?  Seems to have come a solid 'last' in this comparison.  :-X
Bonnecaze seems to rush it, although her overall timing is actually very similar to Sudbin she is more monochrome than he.

These last two are just two of several Chopinistas who have released Scarlatti collections. (Chopinistas - my mental word for any number of piano babes who are invariably pictured draped over their instruments in fairly incongruous fashion.  Maybe it's my age but they all look the same to me.  ::) )  These also include Sonia Rubinsky, Irina Zahharenkova, and perhaps the archetype, Joanna MacGregor - all have Scarlatti collections but none of these appear to have recorded K27.  It was MacGregor's collection which long ago turned me on to Scarlatti on the piano - however against the current competition - almost any of the others mentioned here - MacGregor doesn't hold up too well.
Other notable Scarlatti pianists who may not have recorded K27 include Ivo Pogorelich, Alexandre Tharaud, plus No.3 and No.6 listed below.
Two other notable recordings of K27 that I wasn't aware of when I posted the files, are Angela Hewitt and Murray Perahia, both of which are quite different to any of the six above.  Hewitt is somewhat comparable to Sudbin, but with a crisper and spikier no-legato style.  Her collection of 16 Sonatas (a second volume is due out very soon) is a bit too focussed on the popular war-horses, and in general (though not in K27) she is surprisingly wayward especially with her dynamics - much more so than in her Bach recordings.
Perahia is very straight indeed, understated and buttoned-down like one of his immaculate shirts.  Had I been aware of this recording I would have used it in the comparison instead of No.8 - it would have been more of a contrast to the others.  Perahia hasn't recorded a Scarlatti collection as such, just a few sonatas sharing a CD with some Handel.

No.3 (K476) was Claire Huangci (2015)
No.6 (K8) was Eteri Andjaparidze (1998)
No.9 (K141) was (of course) Martha Argerich  (1978)

Huangci's double-length Scarlatti collection abounds with youthful energy and high spirits, amazing prestidigitation without sounding merely showy.  She perhaps falls a bit short when more lyricism is called for, and this perhaps is reflected in her choice of Sonatas most of which are in the major key. Many of them are also quite unusual choices (like K476).  Highly recommended, perhaps as a contrast or foil to Sudbin or Queffélec.


Andjaparidze by contrast is definitely in the 'lyrical' camp, consistently preferring slower tempi throughout her collection - which is Volume 1 of the Naxos 'Complete Sonatas' survey (other volumes being by other pianists).  Her overall duration for K8 (unedited) is 5:42, by comparison Huangci plays the same piece in 4:17.  Perhaps surprisingly, the dirge-like K8 is one of the most commonly-recorded of the Sonatas.
Argerich was just included for a bit of fun, I don't think she is particularly known for Scarlatti.  This was a concert encore recorded in the Concertgebouw around 1978, and on YouTube she plays the same concert encore in 2009 - so 30 years on  ??? - and if anything, she plays it better.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh9WX7TKfkI
K141 is another very commonly-recorded Sonata, most pianists of course take it a bit slower - Argerich 3:05, Sudbin at 3:12 can't quite hack it, Zhu at 3:48 sounds a bit faltering, Hewitt at 4:26 just plain cautious - Tharaud at 3:36 seems to have the pace right, but even so sounds a bit inaccurate. This is surely future Yuja Wang territory.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 03:25:08 AM by aukhawk »

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Mini-blind comparison: Scarlatti K27 on piano
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2017, 05:29:46 AM »
OK, the reveal -
First the 6 K27s ... (recording/issue dates may be approximate) ...

No.1 was Zhu Xiao-Mei (1998)  ukrneal's 1st choice.
No.2 was Yevgeny Sudbin (2005)
No.4 was Anne Queffélec (2015) the more recent of her two(?) recordings.  Brian's 1st choice.
No.5 was Mikhail Pletnev (1995) the oldest of these six recordings
No.7 was Katia Braunschweiler (2017) the newest, this recording only became available two or three days before I started this thread.
No.8 was Véronique Bonnecaze (2015)

My own thoughts - of these I like Sudbin best, although in this company he is surprisingly one of the quicker ones, and I'd like to hear him play it slower. The much slower, lyrical version by Queffélec is certainly very appealing as well. Queffélec can be found on YouTube playing K27 here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTTlaOADxaA


   


Pletnev and to a lesser extent Zhu sound rather dull and prosaic to me, in this company.  The sound engineering for Braunschweiler is poor, for a new release, it's like a garage recording.  Vanity project maybe?  Seems to have come a solid 'last' in this comparison.  :-X
Bonnecaze seems to rush it, although her overall timing is actually very similar to Sudbin she is more monochrome than he.

These last two are just two of several Chopinistas who have released Scarlatti collections. (Chopinistas - my mental word for any number of piano babes who are invariably pictured draped over their instruments in fairly incongruous fashion.  Maybe it's my age but they all look the same to me.  ::) )  These also include Sonia Rubinsky, Irina Zahharenkova, and perhaps the archetype, Joanna MacGregor - all have Scarlatti collections but none of these appear to have recorded K27.  It was MacGregor's collection which long ago turned me on to Scarlatti on the piano - however against the current competition - almost any of the others mentioned here - MacGregor doesn't hold up too well.
Other notable Scarlatti pianists who may not have recorded K27 include Ivo Pogorelich, Alexandre Tharaud, plus No.3 and No.6 listed below.
Two other notable recordings of K27 that I wasn't aware of when I posted the files, are Angela Hewitt and Murray Perahia, both of which are quite different to any of the six above.  Hewitt is somewhat comparable to Sudbin, but with a crisper and spikier no-legato style.  Her collection of 16 Sonatas (a second volume is due out very soon) is a bit too focussed on the popular war-horses, and in general (though not in K27) she is surprisingly wayward especially with her dynamics - much more so than in her Bach recordings.
Perahia is very straight indeed, understated and buttoned-down like one of his immaculate shirts.  Had I been aware of this recording I would have used it in the comparison instead of No.8 - it would have been more of a contrast to the others.  Perahia hasn't recorded a Scarlatti collection as such, just a few sonatas sharing a CD with some Handel.

No.3 (K476) was Claire Huangci (2015)
No.6 (K8) was Eteri Andjaparidze (1998)
No.9 (K141) was (of course) Martha Argerich  (1978)

Huangci's double-length Scarlatti collection abounds with youthful energy and high spirits, amazing prestidigitation without sounding merely showy.  She perhaps falls a bit short when more lyricism is called for, and this perhaps is reflected in her choice of Sonatas most of which are in the major key. Many of them are also quite unusual choices (like K476).  Highly recommended, perhaps as a contrast or foil to Sudbin or Queffélec.


Andjaparidze by contrast is definitely in the 'lyrical' camp, consistently preferring slower tempi throughout her collection - which is Volume 1 of the Naxos 'Complete Sonatas' survey (other volumes being by other pianists).  Her overall duration for K8 (unedited) is 5:42, by comparison Huangci plays the same piece in 4:17.  Perhaps surprisingly, the dirge-like K8 is one of the most commonly-recorded of the Sonatas.
Argerich was just included for a bit of fun, I don't think she is particularly known for Scarlatti.  This was a concert encore recorded in the Concertgebouw around 1978, and on YouTube she plays the same concert encore in 2009 - so 30 years on  ??? - and if anything, she plays it better.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh9WX7TKfkI
K141 is another very commonly-recorded Sonata, most pianists of course take it a bit slower - Argerich 3:05, Sudbin at 3:12 can't quite hack it, Zhu at 3:48 sounds a bit faltering, Hewitt at 4:26 just plain cautious - Tharaud at 3:36 seems to have the pace right, but even so sounds a bit inaccurate. This is surely future Yuja Wang territory.
How interesting and thank you so much!!!

I actually have the Pletnev, but I so rarely listen to Scarlatti that I don't recall it at all. I will have to dig it out. I've never even heard of the pianist I liked most, but the recording is just too steep in price for now. I'll keep an eye out. Still, a lot to consider and one of the best blind listens we've done so far. A real treat!

That Argerich is simply phenomenal. She has such a deft touch even at this speed!

EDIT: I saw the Perahia could be had for less than $3 on Amazon, so I ordered that one. Will be interesting to hear... (and by the way, my first cd purchase in more than four months).
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 05:39:14 AM by mc ukrneal »
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Mini-blind comparison: Scarlatti K27 on piano
« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2017, 06:03:17 AM »
Pletnev and to a lesser extent Zhu sound rather dull and prosaic to me, in this company.

Sort of an old Spanish roué’s Valse triste (not that there’s anything wrong with that....)
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot