After the success of the first volume of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonatas recorded by Angela Hewitt, the great pianist adds to her catalogue a second and equally dazzling album with seventeen sonatas that have been chosen among more than five hundred compositions and that sometimes are new to her repertoire.
Angela Hewitt and Scarlatti’s Sonatas
In the illuminating booklet notes that include short observations on each work, Hewitt states that she has divided the sonatas into groups, following the fashion of her first album, but a notation in particular drew my attention, precisely when she affirms to have selected «a few sonatas that technically are not so hard to play, thus giving the chance to many amateur pianists of trying them out», referring in particular to the sonatas Kk 63, 64, 426 and 547. In this way, she becomes something more than a performer: she becomes a teacher, not with the purpose to show off her qualities, but rather to invite listeners that perhaps are not accustomed to hear Scarlatti’s sonatas to become acquainted with the easiest part of his production.
I think that this choice is important for the entire album. Apart from this particular group, all the sonatas of this second volume do not seem extremely difficult to perform and therefore the “spectacular” element that everybody expects from an accomplished virtuoso must be found elsewhere. There is not a long search to do as this feature is as transparent as the beauty of the sonatas themselves and it belongs in Hewitt’s charming way of playing.
Hewitt’s performance is frank and direct, but what is more surprising is how the most natural grace becomes the favourite way to make use of her remarkable skill, as if this feature has always belonged to Scarlatti’s music and Hewitt is merely interpreting what is written in the score. We know instead that this rendition is all her own and that the result would have been fairly different with another performer, as nobody else could have found the same glittering colours of the Sonata K 491 that opens the recording as a joyous call («a regal procession with great theatrical flair» and «a processional dance», as Hewitt calls it), or perform the Sonata K 24 with such zest, as a virtuoso impatient to make the listener hear its «orgy of brilliant sound», or find the same innocent coquetry in the Capriccio (Sonata K 63) and in the Gavota (Sonata K 64), the same refined melancholy in the Sonata K 58 and above all the moving sadness of the final Sonata K 481 («one of Scarlatti’s most touching pieces»).
Angela Hewitt’s second volume of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonatas is a magnificent album and, together with the first one, it is a monument, a point of reference for this composer and this genre.