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In Search of the Spanish Scarlatti


Alexandre Tharaud’s previous exploration of the Baroque repertoire has focused on composers such as Couperin and Rameau, whose music is rarely heard on the modern piano. The tradition of Scarlatti on the piano is much more firmly established – Vladimir Horowitz, for instance, would often include his music in recitals – but Tharaud draws inspiration from developments in historically informed performance over the past 30 years. As he told the French magazine Télérama: “I am not sure that authenticity is conferred by a specific instrument, but rather in the way new life is imbued into this music… Baroque musicians have taught us to approach tempi and ornamentation with a sense of freedom, even audacity.”

“I love the extravagance, the sunny glow, the light touch of Scarlatti,” says French pianist Alexandre Tharaud, whose second Virgin Classics release is a collection of the composer’s captivating and adventurous keyboard sonatas. His first release, the Chopin recital Journal intime was described by The Guardian as “altogether breathtakingly beautiful”.

“Tharaud’s choices make for an exhilarating rollercoaster ride between dizzying feats of heady bravura and more gentle moments where introspection and quasi-operatic cantabile playing are required. […] The spirit of dance and song is never far from Scarlatti’s music, and Tharaud relishes the rhythmic and melodic riches here. His choices are refreshingly offbeat […] The playing and musicianship of this young Frenchman are dazzling throughout.” (The Sunday Times)

International Piano’s CHOICE: “He makes full use of the piano’s dynamic range and depth of colour to bring out the extraordinary variety of Scarlatti’s imagination and the disc fairly bristles with wit, intelligence and striking modernity.”

Hear Tharaud play and talk about his Scarlatti release:


Scarlatti – Popular Keyboard Sonatas

What Scarlatti is most prominently remembered for are the 555 short keyboard sonatas originally labelled Essercizi (Exercises). When he died in Madrid, Scarlatti left this treasury of manuscripts, which were largely unplayed beyond Spain and Portugal until pianist Carl Czerny published a selection of the sonatas in 1839.

34 of the most popular sonatas have been added to Piano Street’s sheet music library which now contains 192 of the sonatas by Scarlatti.

Here is one of the most well-known, Sonata K 380 in E Major, performed by Vladimir Horowitz in Moscow 1986:

Sheet music to download:


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