Haydn * D Scarlatti: 'Chiaro E Scuro'

By Kennicott, Philip | Gramophone, September 2015 | Go to article overview

Haydn * D Scarlatti: 'Chiaro E Scuro'


Kennicott, Philip, Gramophone


Haydn * D Scarlatti 'Chiaro e scuro'

Haydn Piano Sonatas--No 13, HobXVI/6; No 38, HobXVI/23; No 39, HobXVI/24; No 50, HobXVI/37. Divertimento, HobXIV/10 D Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas--Kk128; Kk342; Kk425; Kk432; Kk495

Olivier Cave pf Aeon (F) AECD1545 (80' * DDD)

This is a thoroughly satisfying essay on the possibilities of a connection between the keyboard works of Joseph Haydn and Domenico Scarlatti. Geographically, and chronologically, the possibility that Scarlatti influenced Haydn seems at first remote. Haydn was born in 1732 and by 1733 Scarlatti was installed in Madrid, music master to Princess Maria Barbara. But while the bulk of Scarlatti's sonatas were not published at the time, some of them certainly travelled and were widely admired, and in a cogent booklet essay, Elaine Sisman argues for multiple vectors whereby the binary-form works of the Italian master may have made their way under the nose of the young Austrian composer: through the poet and librettist Metastasio, the composer and singing teacher Porpora and the celebrated castrato Farinelli, among others, including lesser-known musical savants who circulated throughout Europe and had contact with Haydn in Vienna.

Even sceptics, however, will be convinced by Olivier Cave's compelling musical demonstration of harmonic, textural, inventive and temperamental affinities between the two musicians. Sudden changes to the minor key, striking contrasts in the thickness of sonority, irregular phrases and periodicity, and a shared indulgence of pure eccentricity recur throughout the works of both composers, who are each represented by five works (three sonatas, a partita and divertimento by Haydn, and five sonatas by Scarlatti). …

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