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Shirley S Kirsten

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Domenico Scarlatti: wailing gypsies, flamenco flourishes, daredevil display
by Shirley S Kirsten   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, December 30, 2011
Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011

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Sonata in D, K. 492 embodies all.

This Baroque era composer never ceases to amaze me. A forerunner of the virtuoso school of keyboard playing, Domenico Scarlatti offers a potpourri of what seems like incompatible ingredients in one short Sonata serving. (K. 492, L. 14) He starts with a sprightly staccato opening in the MAJOR mode in parallel thirds then continues to an inverted variant in the Relative B minor. This preliminary tonal/ emotion contrast blossoms in the course of the composition. Add in a metrical framing in 6/8 meter, and the player is challenged to feel the rhythmic movement in TWO, not 6. Duple compound meter is experienced as a ONE beat gesture occurring every three eighth notes, moving the composition along.

And like the wind suddenly blew in from the north, flamenco guitar flourishes intersperse the staccato thirds sequences, giving the Sonata its Spanish flavor. (Though Scarlatti was Italian, he lived and worked for most of his life in Madrid)

That's not all. In the short space of 108 measures, the composer is a daredevil in his display of frenetic Major scales in dialog between the hands, offset by gypsy wail interludes in the minor.

Through 4 pages, the player is plied back and forth, indulging the melancholy sections with torrents of break-neck speed passages.

Talk about peak emotional shifts.

That's Scarlatti for you, all bundled in one miniature that rises musically well beyond its size.


A Musical Journey: Scarlatti, Schubert and Chopin

Scarlatti and Chopin



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