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Scarlatti. Good grief. (Read 4734 times)

Offline pianobabe_56

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Scarlatti. Good grief.
« on: January 24, 2006, 05:46:38 PM »
I'm currently working on the Scarlatti Sonatas, and the edition I own doesn't give its own fingerings. (It's something like the Kirk Patrick edition, or something, but I don't have it with me, or I'd give you the numbers of the sonatas I'm working on as well. I'm sitting in the computer lab during my Physics class, 'cuz I'm not taking the final!  ;D)

My question: Is Scarlatti traditionally meant to be smooth and connected, or is it appropriate to play the sixteenth notes stacatto? I need to know so that I can come up with appropriate fingerings. Thanks much!
<('.'<)   (>'.')>

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Sheet music to download and print: Sonatas by Scarlatti



Offline debussy symbolism

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 06:12:06 PM »
Greetings.

First off, get a good edition. Get more than one, perhaps two or three. The editions should have fingering, markings for staccato, non-legato, etc. I can compare this to learning Bach. I use two or three editions because each one has something to offer, whether suggested fingering, whether certain dynamics, etc. Of course listening to the music is also essential. I haven't played yet Scarlatti, but I would suggest getting a couple of editions for reference.
My question: Is Scarlatti traditionally meant to be smooth and connected, or is it appropriate to play the sixteenth notes stacatto? I need to know so that I can come up with appropriate fingerings. Thanks much!

As far as I know Scarlatti was a composer from the Baroque period, so his style might be that of Bach, such as polyphony, non-legato eight notes, different voices pertaining to certain instruments or voices, etc. However I cannot be sure since I haven't yet played him. My advice again is to get a good edition and perhaps a recording. Hope this helps. :)

Offline rc

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #2 on: January 24, 2006, 06:16:45 PM »
I'm currently working on the Scarlatti Sonatas, and the edition I own doesn't give its own fingerings. (It's something like the Kirk Patrick edition, or something, but I don't have it with me, or I'd give you the numbers of the sonatas I'm working on as well. I'm sitting in the computer lab during my Physics class, 'cuz I'm not taking the final!  ;D)

My question: Is Scarlatti traditionally meant to be smooth and connected, or is it appropriate to play the sixteenth notes stacatto? I need to know so that I can come up with appropriate fingerings. Thanks much!

That could be Ralph Kirkpatrick, I'm reading a book of his right now 'Interpreting Bach WTC', thin book full of thick ideas. The guy was quite the scholar, if it's his edition I imagine there would be some lengthy preface or something...

Anyways, I don't believe Scarlatti would have left very many interpretive details in his manuscripts, it wasn't common practice of the time, most markings would probably be editorial (sometimes editors have very good ideas!). Anyways, the matter of how to appropriately play any kind of music from these eras is a bit of a speculative matter. There are no recordings, nobody is around to show us how it was done back then, we can't say whether Scarlatti would approve one way or the other. Some would say Scarlatti shouldn't be played on the piano at all :P.

The golden rule; do what you think sounds best. To me 16th notes generally sound good connected, depending entirely on the passage (maybe disconnecting at a change of harmony, change of melodic direction, or rhythmically). I've heard of the 'rule' in baroque music of connecting stepwise motion, and disconnecting the larger intervals, but strict rules are bad for music.

I say, learn it connected, because that fingering will also be able to play stacatto if you choose.

Offline pianobabe_56

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #3 on: January 24, 2006, 06:22:06 PM »
Ralph Kirkpatrick! That's it. Thanks. And yes, it does have a very lengthy preface.  ;D

The issue on fingering is that a lot of Scarlatti's stuff has measures of successive sixths and thirds with a busy left hand, and I'm having difficulty finding a fingering that's smooth. 1/4 - 5/2 doesn't seem to work, but that could also be an issue of needing more practice.

Tell me what ya' think. Thanks!
<('.'<)   (>'.')>

Mind like a steel trap... Rusty and illegal in 37 states!

Offline rc

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #4 on: January 24, 2006, 06:45:40 PM »
Ralph Kirkpatrick! That's it. Thanks. And yes, it does have a very lengthy preface.  ;D

The issue on fingering is that a lot of Scarlatti's stuff has measures of successive sixths and thirds with a busy left hand, and I'm having difficulty finding a fingering that's smooth. 1/4 - 5/2 doesn't seem to work, but that could also be an issue of needing more practice.

Tell me what ya' think. Thanks!

hahah, I thought so, a lengthy, wordy preface that's probably hard to understand :D. Well there's probably some useful information in it. In the book I'm reading now, he seems to have later come to disagree with some of the ideas he had when he was working on the Scarlatti sonatas, so just know what you find there might not be definitive. but there're probably some good ideas.

I would help you with 6ths and 3rds, but I'm still pretty stoopid in those areas ;D. I can say that, to a listener, it's the outside notes that are most noticed. If the lowest and/or the highest notes are connected, you can get away with disconnected inner notes.

Debussy symbolism's suggestion of checking out other editions would be a good idea. Maybe not to buy, that gets expensive, but you could go to the library or music store and just flip through to see what other editors might have done.

Offline pianalex

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #5 on: January 25, 2006, 06:50:09 PM »
kirkpatrick's book on scarlatti is one of the great books written on music.  pages of ideas on interpretation, and reasoning behind them. i recommnd it highly.  his edition of a selection of the 555+ sonatas is probably the nearest to an urtext.  the edition by longo is dated, with errors and 19th century phrasing and dynamics (important in it's day tho'). there are some quite good graded volumes available. a fantastic composer :)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #6 on: February 17, 2006, 12:47:48 AM »

The truth of the matter is that no one knows how to play Scarlatti. We do not have the original autograph copies, just copies made by an anonymous copyist. He lived and composed in Spain (though he was Italian, and the son of Alessandro, one of the greatest composers of the time), which was a cultural backwater. However, this gave him much freedom from the established ways of Cultured Europe. His music (that almost did not get down to us) is shockingly inventive compared with what was being done by his contemporaries, and the Spanish dances that form the basis of many of his sonatas are anything but well-behaved. Scarlatti is a wild musician and should be played with reckless abandon!

Have a look here for more stuff on Scarlatti:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2339.msg20064.html#msg20064
(Scarlatti favourite sonatas).

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3378.msg29677.html#msg29677
(Scarlatti K 201)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2566.msg50255.html#msg50255
(Repeats in Scarlatti – Editions)

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,9717.msg99292.html#msg99292
(detailed discussion of K32)

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,10649.0.html
(Discussion on some of Scarlatti editions)

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,9954.msg101244.html#msg101244
(Kirkpatrick’s opinions – lots of interesting quotes).

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,11466.0.html
(midis & Mp3)


Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline pianalex

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #7 on: February 18, 2006, 09:49:36 AM »
Perhaps he was a little like Haydn in that sense - did he(haydn) not claim that being away from the hubub of Viennese cultural life in Esterhazy had 'forced him to become original.'?
Being part of a Royal court must have been only relatively 'obscure' even in the 18C, but nonetheless it obviously allowed for a free hand in these cases - where it might concievably have been merely stiflingly conservative and restricting. 

Bernhardt, - do you know, please, if the Gilbert edtion is currently in print?  I have been trying to track it down.  I have a hungarian edition of 200 of the sonatas which is quite a well edited urtext and reasonably priced, from Chappells in London.  The binding is irritating though, as it is sometimes hard to read the score where the pages join(!)

 Off topic I know but incidently I have been reading some of the threads where you talk about practice techniques, and have been heartened by your notion of exploiting the unconscious.  I think it should be studied and applied across many areas of education, as it is a greatly underused resource.  In my own work as an artist (painter, not performer) it is something I have only slowly come to understand the value of across time - the idea that not working is an essential part of work.  I like the way you suggest using it in a systematic and consistent way, and will start trying it at the piano directly. Thanks.

 Did I read somewhere that Neuhaus used to tell his students '..in summer we learn to skate.'

Offline pianalex

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #8 on: February 18, 2006, 01:42:04 PM »
bernhard - sorry formisspelling your name above ::)

Offline nomis

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #9 on: February 18, 2006, 01:54:08 PM »
I think before Beethoven, everyone used to play notes slightly disconnected unless it was marked legato. However, I would do what would be musically effective. If it's a fast piece, having the notes slightly disconnected will make the passage clearer and often, because of the clarity, sound faster, a technique that Horowitz used to use. He also used it depending on the acoustics of the hall. A hall with more mushy acoustics would need the disconnected type, as the same passage that souded clear at home would've probably sounded unclear at the hall.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #10 on: February 19, 2006, 12:27:05 AM »
Perhaps he was a little like Haydn in that sense - did he(haydn) not claim that being away from the hubub of Viennese cultural life in Esterhazy had 'forced him to become original.'?
Being part of a Royal court must have been only relatively 'obscure' even in the 18C, but nonetheless it obviously allowed for a free hand in these cases - where it might concievably have been merely stiflingly conservative and restricting. 

Bernhardt, - do you know, please, if the Gilbert edtion is currently in print?  I have been trying to track it down.  I have a hungarian edition of 200 of the sonatas which is quite a well edited urtext and reasonably priced, from Chappells in London.  The binding is irritating though, as it is sometimes hard to read the score where the pages join(!)

 Off topic I know but incidently I have been reading some of the threads where you talk about practice techniques, and have been heartened by your notion of exploiting the unconscious.  I think it should be studied and applied across many areas of education, as it is a greatly underused resource.  In my own work as an artist (painter, not performer) it is something I have only slowly come to understand the value of across time - the idea that not working is an essential part of work.  I like the way you suggest using it in a systematic and consistent way, and will start trying it at the piano directly. Thanks.

 Did I read somewhere that Neuhaus used to tell his students '..in summer we learn to skate.'

That is without doubt. Alessandro was a domineering and authoritarian father. To the point where Scarlatti even in his forties needed his father´s permission to marry. It is almost a certainty that his acceptance of a post in the Portuguese Court as teacher to the King´s chidren (one of which  - Maria Barbara – eventually became Queen of Spain and took Scarlatti there with her) was his way to escape his father sphere of influence. What could be farther in Europe than Portugal? I am surprised he did not take the logical step and crossed the ocean to Brazil! And up to that point, his production as a composer was small and trivial. Yet, from the moment he arrives in Portugal – in one of the greatest examples of late developments in an artist (and therefore giving us all, old guys, hope) – he never stopped composing master piece after piece, starting at age 43, and by the time of his death having produced what is arguably the greatest keyboard works of the Baroque.

And he also seemed to have lived a pretty wild life down there, drinking, gambling (unlike Bach) and (like Bach) having two wives much younger than himself and producing a load of children (not as many as Bach, though), and being a party animal in general..

Yes, as far as I know, Kenneth Gilbert´s edition is still in print (expensive though), and it is acknowledeged as the best current complete edition, although Forte pianist Emilia Fadini is in the process of finishing her own complete edition for Ricordi. Last time I checked, 8 volumes out of ten planned were available with 457 sonatas out of 555. Ricordi says:

“This critical edition of all the sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti is justified by the necessity of offering performers and scholars a text which is philologically faithful to the author's intentions (in so far as this can be reconstructed through a comparative study of the surviving printed and manuscript sources) and which is presented as authentically as possible, free from editorial interference or suggestions for performance or interpretation. The study of musicology and especially of the performing traditions of baroque music has advanced considerably since Alessandro Longo achieved the mammoth task of publishing the entire corpus of Scarlatti's sonatas for the first time, and today we can deal with problems of text and interpretation with a surer and deeper methodological awareness; all of these will be adequately treated in the Appendix to this edition, which will contain also a general thematic catalog of the complete sonatas.”

So, this may be worth checking, specially because Ricordi will almost surely be cheaper than Heugel (Gilbert´s publisher).

Fadini is also in the process of recording (for Stradivarius) all the sonatas on the fortepiano (presently in vol. 5).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #11 on: February 19, 2006, 12:31:18 AM »
bernhard - sorry formisspelling your name above ::)

 :'( :'( :'(

(No problem ;))
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #12 on: February 19, 2006, 12:32:34 AM »
And here is another thread you may find interesting:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,10849.0.html
(What is the best edition for a given composer - complete sources for Scarlatti editions)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline guermantes

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #13 on: March 26, 2006, 06:34:19 PM »
Greetings !

It has been wonderful reading all the information about Scarlatti in the many threads of the forum.

I’m working on Scarlatti K.141, initially from John Sankey’s version. I had queries about the rhythm of his measures 34-36, and the b flat in the intermediate part of his m135 which I addressed to him. He very kindly replied saying “Everything is the way Scarlatti wrote it, in what is believed to be his personal copy.” While awaiting his reply, I acquired the EMB edition of the sonata from which I am presently working. There I found the answers to my queries. Has anyone else noticed what I thought were these anomalies in the Sankey version?

I wish to thank Bernhard for suggesting the Naxos site. I found that as a free member I could only listen to 25% of any recording, so I became a paid-up member and listened to several renditions of the sonata on the Naxos site by Chang, Szokolay and Lewis. Elsewhere I found a recording by Gilels.

Gilels’ rendition includes 2 additional measures after what is measure 117 in the EMB edition. These 2 extra measures make this section (m.113-123) of the sonata a replicate of a previous section (m.40-52). Also, the performers differ on how they render the bass in m.126, 130, and 134. The EMB edition in m.126 and 134 has the bass rise a major second on the third beat but not in m.130. Some performers played all three measures with bass rising while others did not.

If anyone has access to Gilbert’s authoritative edition (costs 85,40 euros in Paris i.e. 58£ sterling), I would be curious to know what is indicated for these locations.

Thank you in advance for any light shed on this subject.

Béryl

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #14 on: April 07, 2006, 02:23:02 PM »
Greetings !

It has been wonderful reading all the information about Scarlatti in the many threads of the forum.

I’m working on Scarlatti K.141, initially from John Sankey’s version. I had queries about the rhythm of his measures 34-36, and the b flat in the intermediate part of his m135 which I addressed to him. He very kindly replied saying “Everything is the way Scarlatti wrote it, in what is believed to be his personal copy.” While awaiting his reply, I acquired the EMB edition of the sonata from which I am presently working. There I found the answers to my queries. Has anyone else noticed what I thought were these anomalies in the Sankey version?

I wish to thank Bernhard for suggesting the Naxos site. I found that as a free member I could only listen to 25% of any recording, so I became a paid-up member and listened to several renditions of the sonata on the Naxos site by Chang, Szokolay and Lewis. Elsewhere I found a recording by Gilels.

Gilels’ rendition includes 2 additional measures after what is measure 117 in the EMB edition. These 2 extra measures make this section (m.113-123) of the sonata a replicate of a previous section (m.40-52). Also, the performers differ on how they render the bass in m.126, 130, and 134. The EMB edition in m.126 and 134 has the bass rise a major second on the third beat but not in m.130. Some performers played all three measures with bass rising while others did not.

If anyone has access to Gilbert’s authoritative edition (costs 85,40 euros in Paris i.e. 58£ sterling), I would be curious to know what is indicated for these locations.

Thank you in advance for any light shed on this subject.

Béryl


Here is the Gilbert edition for the relevant bars:

1. Bars 33 - 36



2. Bars 113 – 123



3. Bars 124 – 134



I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline sauergrandson

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #15 on: April 07, 2006, 03:01:11 PM »
What to think about Sankey's edition?

The same about Padre Soler's "scores" at www.chateaugris.com

Offline arensky

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #16 on: April 07, 2006, 04:28:02 PM »
The truth of the matter is that no one knows how to play Scarlatti.


True but we know that he wrote primarily for the harpsichord, at least in the begining. I've read that the Spanish court owned pianofortes, and many of his sonatas do seem to point towards the use of dynamics. That said I think one should use the harpsichord and it's capabilities and drawbacks as a starting point for devising one's own approach to Scarlatti. Since the harpsichord demands complete clarity and precision from the player I think it's safe to say that we should apply that same quality to our piano interpretations of Scarlatti. But to play the piano like a harpsichord is wrong, with the piano we can add to the dynamic and coloristic palette of the music. So as we adapt the music to the piano it's a good idea to study recordings of great Scarlatti pianists and harpsichordists, and to play the pieces on a harpsichord, to understand what we are dealing with physically as well as aurally.

Baroque and classical period music should not be played all legato (or should anything!). Musicologists differ ( often fight!) about the use of different articulations in the music but there is a general consensus that different articulations and touch types should be used. A visit to a harpsichord will point you in the right direction, as will listening to recordings by the following pianists, all very different but respected for their Scarlatti playing.

Vladimir Horowitz ( the best IMO),  Michelangeli, Mikhail Pletnev, Ivo Pogorelich (these two are a bit Chopinesque for my taste but are superb), and particularly a young pianist currently teaching at the Cleavland Institute of Music, Sergei Babayan. His Scarlatti playing is extraordinary. Good luck and enjoy, Scarlatti's music is a real adventure!
=  o        o  =
   \     '      /   

"One never knows about another one, do one?" Fats Waller

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #17 on: April 07, 2006, 06:19:42 PM »
What to think about Sankey's edition?

The same about Padre Soler's "scores" at www.chateaugris.com


First of all, thank you very much for the Soler site :D. It seems like a superb site (any site which has the sheert music and the accompanying MP3/Midi already has a place in my heart). It is the first time I come across it, so I will defer comments on the edition for later.

As for Sankey, I have the utmost respect for his work. Again, he made available (in midi) all 555 Scarlatti sonatas and provided the sheet music for the first 173 of them (hopefully he will continue to add). His editions (I believe) are based on the facsimiles of the original Scarlatti copies (published by KirkPatrick in the 1950s), and as such are as close as one can get to the original. One thing I truly like about his editions is that he makes very clear the crossing of hands (by printing the heads of the left hand notes in diamond shape). I must say though that I find too much crossing hands in them. There is of course no way to know if that is how Scarlatti played them. Following Sankey´s directions in this respect my result in unnecessary difficulties being added to the piece. However his argument is very good: Crossing of hands was a visual tour de force, and in performance it should be done. He himself confesses that when recording the pieces he did not use such extensive crossing of hands, since there would be no visual counterpart to the sound.

I also enjoyed very much his several articles not only on Scarlatti, but on technique, harpsichords and so on. Yes, Sankey is excellent and seems to be a thoroughly nice person (he provides all this material for free – read about his troubles with people trying to steal the copyright from him).

Usually when tackling a Scarlatti sonata I will always work with several editions at the same time, most often the Gilbert, the Longo and the Sankey.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline sauergrandson

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #18 on: April 07, 2006, 08:11:55 PM »
Scarlatti's sonata F sharp minor, K. 142 , its pdf, does not exist in Longo edition (www.piano.ru/scarlatti.html) But is wonderful.  Would someone provide us with K. 142 - Pestelli 240, its pdf?

Offline pianalex

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #19 on: April 08, 2006, 07:40:15 AM »
quick update on editions -  I managed to track down some of the fadini for around £30, old stock at foyle's.  Others i ordered had to be run-off by ricordi and hence have taken a couple of months.  Although initially quoted as now being around £50 a copy when they arrived thy were more like £35 (offset by the fact that the newer ones were slightly smaller, on less good paper and one has an unprinted page.)  Still it seems like a nice clean edition, although the beaming does'nt immediately clarify which hand plays what, and no fingering ( I prefer).  One annoying thing is Fadini renumbers them, so you have to cross reference to find the K numbers.  There now seem to be around 4 differing catalogings (sp) and no real means of knowing the actual sequence of composition.  The volume which has K141 has not arrived yet, so I cannot compare the bars discussed above- will let you know.
I have just been reading the biography of pioneer harpsichordist Violet Gordon Woodhouse, in which the deeper rediscovery of the joys of scarlatti play a part and seemed to have provided great solace during the second war, particularly played on the clavichord.  There is quite a lot of correspondance between her and secheverell sitwell who shared this passion, and although its all a bit posh, there is something quite moving about this then unfashionable passion.  It's a good read anyway.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #20 on: April 09, 2006, 03:05:03 AM »
Scarlatti's sonata F sharp minor, K. 142 , its pdf, does not exist in Longo edition (www.piano.ru/scarlatti.html) But is wonderful.  Would someone provide us with K. 142 - Pestelli 240, its pdf?

I sent you a PM. :D
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline sauergrandson

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #21 on: April 09, 2006, 04:55:30 PM »
Thanks a lot, Bern.             :D

Offline bernhard

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Re: Scarlatti. Good grief.
«Reply #22 on: April 10, 2006, 12:08:41 PM »
You are welcome :)
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)