SCARLATTI, D.: Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 1 (Eteri Andjaparidze) (Naxos: 8.553061)
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For reasons unknown Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti chose never to use his first name, and in later life adopted the Spanish equivalent, Domingo Escarlatti. He was the sixth of ten children born in 1685 to Antonia Anzalone and the famous composer, Alessandro Scarlatti. Like his father, we know little about his childhood, though by the age of 16 he was such a distinguished musician as to be appointed organist and composer to the royal chapel in Naples, the city of his birth. He there composed operas before his father ordered him to travel to gain experience. We have another gap in Domenico's history, until we find him in Rome in 1709 where he was working for the exiled Polish queen. Rome was an important meeting place, and it is known he met both Handel and Corelli who were to influence him. He was there to enjoy patronage and significant church appointments. Yet the influence of his father was so great, that at the age of 32 he resorted to gaining legal independence from his parent, and fled to Portugal to finally end this oppressive influence.
So we enter another nine years of which we know nothing, apart from the fact that he often visited Italy and was married there in 1728. Though there are reports that he travelled widely in his last thirty years is spurious, as there is no firm evidence of his ever leaving the Iberian peninsula. Indeed it would appear that he was happy to be a modest part of the royal household, teaching, performing and composing, the latter almost entirely devoted to his massive volume of keyboard sonatas. Thus his quite significant output of operas pre-date his departure from Italy, with only a handful of his sacred cantatas being composed while in Lisbon.
Yet the sonatas were to have an influence on keyboard writing and playing for the next century, and gained Domenico a place in musical posterity. He was to die in Madrid in 1757.
Even with today's musicological research, questions of authenticity and textural accuracy still exist due the chequered history of their publication. Indeed the first batch were printed in London, presumably the work of Italians working in England. Other volumes were published second-hand from some Spanish scribe, and so we continue.
Musically they were far more advanced melodically and harmonically than any other keyboard works of the period, and can be seen leading out of the Baroque era into something with a less formal structure. They are in one movement, often of complex structure, and demanded a virtuosity that must have taxed performers at that time. They also tell us much about Scarlatti as a performer, as he obviously was the master of his own music. We are totally unsure as to the date of composition, and we must take the numbering as being nothing more than a general guide whether we accept the numbering allotted by either Ralph Kirkpatrick (K numbers) or the earlier ones from Alessandro Longo (L numbers).
We are equally uncertain what instruments Scarlatti would have had at his disposal in Spain, though performers make a distinct stand on this point. He may even have had a very early piano with hammer action. What is reasonably clear is the fact that he would not have had the big Italian or German harpsichords which are those now most often used in modern performances.
Eteri Andjaparidze was born in the Republic of Georgia, her family containing many celebrated musicians. By the age of nine Eteri had already given solo recitals and had performed with the State Symphony Orchestra. Entered in the 1974 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow, she was the youngest competitor yet gained fourth prize. That same year she entered the Moscow Conservatory to study with Vera Gornostayeva, one of Russia's most respected teachers. In 1976 she became the first Soviet artist to win the Montreal International Piano Competition, which set her on the road of performing with many of Europe's most outstanding orchestras and conductors. In 1982 she returned to Georgia to become Professor of Piano at the State Conservatoire, and since then has spent time there and in the States where she has developed a dual career teaching at the State University in New York, and as a concert artist. She has recorded for Melodiya, Naxos and Marco Polo, her wide range of music demonstrated by having recorded the piano music of Prokofiev and also the light music of the American composer 'Zez' Confrey.