Friday, October 16, 2009

Contest Literature-Scarlatti Sonata K491 (L164) in D Major

Who is the composer and where is he from? Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (October 26, 1685 – July 23, 1757) was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style. His influential 555 sonatas were almost all written for the harpsichord with a few exceptions for chamber ensemble or organ. The harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick produced an edition of the sonatas in 1953, and the numbering from this edition is now nearly always used (the K. number). Previously, the numbering commonly used was from the 1906 edition compiled by the Neapolitan pianist Alessandro Longo (L. numbers). Kirkpatrick's numbering is chronological, while Longo's ordering is a result of his grouping the sonatas into "suites". What a way to spend your life, right? Numbering the Scarlatti sonatas? Wow.
What else have they written that we may already know or have heard? other sonatas perhaps?
What is the title? What does it mean? Baroque sonatas are single movements, mostly in binary form (A possible repeat of A, B, possible repeat of B), and are almost all intended for the harpsichord (there are four for organ, and a few where Scarlatti suggests a small instrumental group)
What time period is it from? We will call it Baroque.
What about this piece do you like? Some of my students just don't care for the two equal hands of Baroque style and say it is difficult to compete and win with a Baroque piece. I say if you play it well, it doesn't matter what time period it's from.
What sounds challenging? The runs of thirds.

Here are videos both on a piano and on a harpsichord, just for fun. The pianist treats this piece much more lyrically and romantically, don't you think?

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