Author Topic: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked  (Read 1055 times)

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Offline BWV 1080

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Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« on: June 26, 2020, 09:00:24 AM »
https://van-us.atavist.com/scarlatti-ranked

The top 20:

Quote
K62: Big contrasts in the first 30 seconds, crunchy dissonances, weird pedal points, dramatic runs at the end.
K94: A soft dance with surprising chromaticism.
K46: Weird modulations and an awesome pedal point moment make this excellent.
K162: Tender with varied and interesting dissonances.
K22: Good momentum. Brief and to the point.
K291: Tender, poetic. Reminds me of Schubert’s “Der Leiermann.”
K32: A jewel.
K18: Immediately apparent charisma that doesn’t let up.
K64: Badass big block chords. Heavy metal.
K95: Delightfully bonkers.
K111: Wonderful off-kilter rhythm and intersecting suspensions. Sticks to its material and doesn’t overplay its hand. A gem.
K144: Gorgeous, with beautiful deceptive cadences.
K185: Simple, beautiful, and elegant.
K208: Very pretty.
K213: Wonderfully mysterious chromatic lines and diminished harmonies.
K347: Hyper dramatic.
K436: Transcends other happy Sonatas in its emotional extremity.
K497: Pulls you along in its wake.
K517: Intense pleasure.
K141: A classic. ¶

Alternatively, you could listen to every sonata at the same time:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/wanpSQXU_3Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/wanpSQXU_3Y</a>


Offline Florestan

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2020, 09:27:12 AM »
This guy is insane.
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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2020, 10:48:27 AM »
I've wanted to listen to these sonatas at some point, but there are lots of them (555, nothing less!). Is there any complete recording of them on piano?

Online some guy

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2020, 11:24:16 AM »
https://van-us.atavist.com/scarlatti-ranked

Alternatively, you could listen to every sonata at the same time:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/wanpSQXU_3Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/wanpSQXU_3Y</a>

That was fun!

Online MusicTurner

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2020, 11:31:17 AM »
I've wanted to listen to these sonatas at some point, but there are lots of them (555, nothing less!). Is there any complete recording of them on piano?

Naxos started a complete series on piano back in 1999, with various pianists. They've just reached Vol.24
https://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.574196

Offline Florestan

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2020, 11:33:45 AM »
I've wanted to listen to these sonatas at some point, but there are lots of them (555, nothing less!). Is there any complete recording of them on piano?

Carlo Grante on a Bösendorfer. I have the whole thing but never listened to the whole thing.

This is Volume 1, comprising like 10 CDs. There are 6 or 7 volumes I think.

« Last Edit: June 26, 2020, 11:35:35 AM by Florestan »
“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.” — Claude Debussy

Offline Dima

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2020, 11:46:07 AM »

Online SimonNZ

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2020, 01:28:48 PM »
Quote
K95: Delightfully bonkers.

is it? I guess "bonkers" is a highly subjective term, but that's not how I'd apply it.

In the context of Scarlatti I'd use it when you get highly formal dance tunes suddenly interrupted by something utterly undanceable like virtuosic runs up and down the keyboard, eg K454

Offline JBS

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2020, 01:35:40 PM »
Naxos started a complete series on piano back in 1999, with various pianists. They've just reached Vol.24
https://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.574196

Scott Ross's set is 34 CDs, including one that has sonatas for organ and sonatas with other instruments.

So that puts Naxos at 2/3rds of the way through.

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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2020, 05:43:54 PM »
Naxos started a complete series on piano back in 1999, with various pianists. They've just reached Vol.24
https://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.574196

Carlo Grante on a Bösendorfer. I have the whole thing but never listened to the whole thing.

This is Volume 1, comprising like 10 CDs. There are 6 or 7 volumes I think.



Thank you, guys. That would cost me some money (and time) if I decided to undertake such a project.

Online Papy Oli

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2020, 11:06:32 PM »
Thank you, guys. That would cost me some money (and time) if I decided to undertake such a project.

Join qobuz for their one-month trial and you'll find at least 5 volumes of the Carlo Grante and quite a few from the naxos cycle...and scott ross'...then you'll find what tickles your fancy before investing into it.
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Offline Daverz

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2020, 12:56:42 AM »
Join qobuz for their one-month trial and you'll find at least 5 volumes of the Carlo Grante and quite a few from the naxos cycle...and scott ross'...then you'll find what tickles your fancy before investing into it.

Belder, too.  It looks like it's all there in 5 volumes, starting with https://open.qobuz.com/album/5028421949192

Offline Brian

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2020, 04:32:03 AM »
I clicked this thread last night, laughed out loud at the idea of ranking all 555 in order, and then my girlfriend said "why are you laughing?" That was tough to explain   ;D

I've wanted to listen to these sonatas at some point, but there are lots of them (555, nothing less!). Is there any complete recording of them on piano?

Unfortunately the main go to is 1/2 CD recitals. I'll try to be a little descriptive about my favorites so it's more useful than a mere list, but these are my favorites.

Flamboyantly pianistic, with lots of artistic liberty and dynamic range a harpsichord couldn't do: Mikhail Pletnev (2CDs), Yevgeny Sudbin (2CDs), Goran Filipec (Naxos)

Grouped into imaginary "suites" and "sonatas" by key for an interesting listen: Claire Huangci (2CDs)

Fond of the slower more lyrical sonatas: Anne Queffelec (Erato, Mirare), Konstantin Scherbakov (Naxos), Dubravka Tomsic

Also noteworthy in the Naxos series: Benjamin Frith, Duanduan Hao, Artem Yasynskyy

I only sampled a couple of Carlo Grante performances on streaming and unfortunately was not thrilled with his rhythmic sense.

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2020, 01:18:42 PM »
The OP perversely avoids K27 which by any measure would be 'up there' in the top 10 let alone 20.

Flamboyantly pianistic, with lots of artistic liberty and dynamic range a harpsichord couldn't do: Mikhail Pletnev (2CDs), Yevgeny Sudbin (2CDs), Goran Filipec (Naxos)

I endorse Sudbin and Filipec unreservedly.  I'd also mention Hewitt and Debargue.  And I'm just in the process of assimilating Margherita Torretta who sounds promising at first listen.

[edit: after listening, scrap Torretta ]

Quote
Grouped into imaginary "suites" and "sonatas" by key for an interesting listen: Claire Huangci (2CDs)

I enthusiastically endorse Huangci too.  This is essential Scarlatti.

Quote
Fond of the slower more lyrical sonatas: Anne Queffelec (Erato, Mirare), Konstantin Scherbakov (Naxos), Dubravka Tomsic

Queffelec yes especially the Mirare disc, I don't know the others but I would add in this category, Andjaparidze (Naxos Vol.1)
« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 01:15:40 PM by aukhawk »

Offline amw

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2020, 02:06:22 PM »
From the Naxos series I would add Evgeny Zarafiants and Balasz Szokolay. And in general consider any list without Christian Zacharias and Maria Tipo woefully incomplete. There are also very good if somewhat more heterodox collections by Sergei Babayan, Nikolai Demidenko and Michelangelo Carbonara.

The problem with this approach is, obviously, that you don't get all 555 sonatas—in fact you get a lot of repeats of a few famous sonatas and no recordings at all of most of the non-famous ones. So large parts of your collection end up looking like this:

(substitute Belder for Ross, Lester, or whoever else you prefer for the integral—I found Belder my favourite of the lot personally)

Online SimonNZ

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2020, 02:54:07 PM »
The OP perversely avoids K27 which by any measure would be 'up there' in the top 10 let alone 20.



Likewise the ever-popular K380, which now that I think about it would also fit the description I gave to K454 above.

Offline Brian

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2020, 03:30:47 PM »
Whoops, forgot Zacharias because I was torn on which category to put him into and Babayan because of sheer forgetfulness.

Clearly I need to investigate Torretta, Zarafiants, Tipo, Carbonara, and Demidenko (whose name is surprising in this context). Debargue is really eccentric and frequently interesting.

Federico Colli's new series on Chandos is so repugnant I find it almost immoral. It answers the question, "what if Pletnev had had no taste at all?"

Offline Todd

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2020, 03:52:37 PM »
Federico Colli's new series on Chandos is so repugnant I find it almost immoral. It answers the question, "what if Pletnev had had no taste at all?"


You have piqued my curiosity.  The big question here is does he have Pletnev level chops?
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Offline Brian

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2020, 06:10:08 PM »

You have piqued my curiosity.  The big question here is does he have Pletnev level chops?
More like "finalist on the modern competition circuit" level chops. Hard to tell because he's such a fan of dramatic pauses between phrases. You can almost see him raising an eyebrow during each pause.

Offline amw

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Re: Every Scarlatti Sonata Ranked
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2020, 08:21:32 PM »
Since I share almost no favourites with the writer of the article I decided to make my own personal "best of". I couldn't rank all 555 in any kind of order (lol) but I have at least listened to all of them (and have the scores.)

Favourite recordings always subject to change.

K20 - the "Capriccio". (favourite recording: Tipo)
K24 - the earlier and crazier of two versions of this sonata; at the height of virtuosity. (favourite recording: Virginia Black, on harpsichord—most performers take it too slowly due to the difficulty involved)
K32 - the "Aria"; deserves its popularity. (favourite recording: Tipo or Zylberajch)
K34 - like a more chromatically inflected variation of K32; they belong together. (almost never recorded!)
K64 - the "Gavotta" (favourite recording: Meyer)
K80 - the "Minuet"—technically the second movement to K79. Charming and full of small surprises. (almost never recorded!)
K95 - the slightly off-kilter phrasing & hand crossing throughout makes this one a lot of fun. Ideal recording would probably be sub 1 minute, although Alice Ader's slow recording is delightfully silly. (favourite recording: Ross or Belder)
K119 - there are a number of similar sonatas but this is the most appealing—highlights include some of those 5- and 6-note clusters, which makes this one sonata where harpsichordists have an advantage. (favourite recording: Black)
K141 - the "Toccata"; pianists' favourite (I ended up with 16 recordings, more than any other sonata). (favourite recording: Argerich or Sudbin)
K162 - seems like it's going to be yet another example of Scarlatti's love of repetition, and then..... (favourite recording: Tomšić)
K169 - also lots of fun, main idea quite catchy (favourite recording: Asperen)
K261 - somewhere in the middle of this sonata Scarlatti turns the drama dial to "Extremely High" and it's great (almost never recorded!)
K296 - a tender slow movement with softly insistent, dramatic modulations & a beautiful second theme; worth every one of its 9 to 11 minutes (favourite recording: Zacharias or Belder)
K322 - another great tune whose tenderness belies the "Allegro" marking (favourite recording: Schiff)
K357 - for this sonata and the previous one Scarlatti had a keyboard with some extra high notes, which seems to have inspired him to return to his early style of virtuosity full of dramatic pauses and register shifts. (almost never recorded!)
K380 - the "Cortege". A deserved classic, not sure why the author didn't like it. (favourite recording: Meyer or Zacharias)
K386 - One of the best in the perpetuum mobile genre. (favourite recording: probably Pletnev)
K417 - my favourite of Scarlatti's fugues; has unstoppable forward momentum if played without too much legato (favourite recording: Sudbin)
K420 - 420 blaze it (favourite recording: Tharaud or Staier)
K427 - Lots of fun, depending though on how "quanto si possibile" the performer can make the "Presto." (favourite recording: Gieseking or Quéffelec)
K446 - second of three (or more?) sonatas Scarlatti titled "Pastorale". Most pianists seem to disregard the "Allegrissimo" tempo marking, to good effect. (favourite recording: Demidenko or Bonaventura)
K450 - a bit like a sped-up version of the Bach b-flat minor prelude from Book I of the WTC. Also works very well on guitar. (favourite recording: Marchionda)
K460 - I really enjoy the harmonic twists and turns in this one (favourite recording: Zacharias)
K474 - "too long"? Really? Author clearly a philistine. Anyway I'm sure you all know this one (favourite recording: Bonaventura or Marchionda)
K478 - One of my favourites that ended up on the author's "worst of" list. Probably fair to say that the slow sonatas are always going to divide opinion though. I love all the little zig-zag runs. (favourite recording: Zarafiants, but doubters may prefer Meyer)
K481 - My overall favourite. (favourite recording: Zylberajch)
K490 - undoubtedly the weirdest sonata of them all, starting with the completely inappropriate tempo marking "Cantabile" and going from there (favourite recording: Koopman or Belder)