D. Scarlatti: Sonatas

Album cover art for upc 5028421958170
Label: BRILLIANT CLASSICS
Catalog: BRI95817
Format: COMPACT DISC

Reniero, Nicola

Played by the right hands, the astonishing freshness of invention of Scarlatti’s sonatas emerges with no less brilliance on the piano than his intended harpsichord. So why not the organ, too? In fact, Scarlatti probably intended only three of his 555 surviving keyboard sonatas specifically for an organ. Yet even on the instruments of his own time, in churches and chapels across Europe and especially his native Italy and adopted home of Spain, the palette of colors offered by a well-appointed organ brings these vibrantly colored works to life without any fear of them being obscured by clouds of bass pedal or resonance. Organist Nicola Reniero explains that his selection of 19 sonatas concentrates on particularly intricate or individual examples of polyphony and fugue where the organ’s diversity of register and color may be thought to excel. He does so, however, without neglecting the principle that in Scarlatti’s music almost everything is vocal and theatrical: the introduction is like the curtain that rises; the themes are the characters, and the various sections of the piece are like scenes of a wordless drama. Reniero has chosen to avoid the kind of echo effects which would be a conventional way to introduce contrast between phrases: “I have tried instead to emphasize the originality of the harmonies or the characters of famous themes.” The album closes with the most spectacular of all Scarlatti’s fugues, K417 in D minor. It is a stunning piece not only on account of the frenzied finale and the unexpected change of scene that comes about halfway through the piece, but above all for the boundless energy that pervades it throughout. For this new recording, Reniero plays the organ of the Duomo di Desenzano in the town of Garda, a two-manual instrument first reconstructed by the Serassi Brothers and then restored and partially rebuilt by Marco Fratti in 2014.

Price: $11.99