Wonderful review of Scott Ross’s Scarlatti boxset on BBC Radio 3’s CD Review programme
On Saturday 12th November on BBC Radio 3’s CD Review
programme, Stephen Plaistow and Andrew McGregor discussed the very special 34-CD boxset of Scarlatti
’s complete keyboard sonatas played by Scott Ross
and recently re-issued on Warner Classics at budget price
. The programme can be heard for seven days after the broadcast at www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/cdreview
(at approximately 1 hour 20 minutes into the programme).
The composer and harpsichordist Domenico Scarlatti
(1685-1757), a rough contemporary of Bach and Handel, was born in Naples, the son of the famous opera composer, Alessandro Scarlatti. Domenico worked in Rome as Choirmaster to the exiled Queen of Poland, Maria Casimira, and later as Choirmaster at the Basilica Giulia, St. Peter’s, the Vatican. At the age of 35, he became Court Harpsichordist to the King of Portugal and teacher to Princess Maria Barbara. Scarlatti followed the Princess to Spain in 1729, when she married the future king, Ferdinand VI, becoming maestro
de camera when Maria Barbara became queen. He lived in Madrid for the rest of his life, immersing himself in Spanish folk tunes and dance rhythms.
In addition to being one of the greatest keyboard virtuosos of all time, Domenico Scarlatti is responsible for developing keyboard style, giving it new freedom and introducing technical devices such as rapid repetitions, crossed hands and double note passages. He composed 555 single-movement sonatas that are both exercises and innovative works anticipating sonata form. In the book Five Centuries of Keyboard Music, John Gillespie writes, “If Scarlatti’s music does not strive for profundity, it forever has its elegance. A relentless searcher for brilliant and unusual effects, Scarlatti avoids triviality and aims for an expressive, sometimes dramatic line.”
(1951-1989), the American-born organist and harpsichordist, moved to France at the age of 13 and studied at the Conservatoire in Nice with Madame Huguette Gréy-Chauliac and subsequently at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris. He taught for a decade in Quebec City’s Laval University, where he also obtained his Ph.D. He subsequently returned to Europe as a performer and recording artist. For Erato Disques he made seven recordings comprising a total of 42 CDs. These included Eight Keyboard Suites of Handel, Keyboard pieces by Jean-Henri d’Anglebert, Six partitas of J.S. Bach, Bach’s Italian Concerto, Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, Partita and Four Duets, Fandango and Sonatas by Antonio Soler and the complete keyboard works of Domenico Scarlatti. Ross died in France in 1989 at the age of 38.
Scott Ross recorded Scarlatti’s 555 sonatas between June 1984 and September 1985. Originally released in nine volumes, they proved a great success with both the public and the critics. They have been a pillar of the Warner catalogue ever since. They are now being re-released as a 34-CD boxed set at budget price.