D. Scarlatti: Alio modo

Amaya Fernández Pozuelo harpsichord
Stradivarius STR 37140
+ de Albéniz, de Albero, López, Soler

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This is an impressive recording of keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti and four of his Spanish followers: Antonio Soler, Sebastián de Albero, Felix Máximo López and Mateo Pérez de Albéniz. The last three were new to me, though I did recognise what is the sole surviving sonata by Pérez de Albéniz. López’s variations on a ‘Minué afandangado’ are an entertaining fusion of French and Spanish dances, played here with panache. De Albero’s Sonata no. 12 is very much in Scarlattian mode. Fernández Pozuelo is a persuasive advocate for her ‘alio modo’ of performing this repertory: it involves considerable flexibility in tempo, lots of added ornamentation and variation in phrasing, as well as more than unusual asynchrony between the hands. This allows her to explore the rhetorical possibilities of the music successfully and to provide a greater level of contrast than is customarily found in performances of this repertory. This is particularly the case in her fine performance of the extended D minor Scarlatti Sonata K213. Other pieces show bravura and a real joy in the music. Her interpretations are helped considerably by some fine recording engineering, which gives her copy of a Hemsch harpsichord by Fernando Granziera of Milan real presence, highlighting the richness of its sound. My only disappointment is with the booklet, where some informative notes on the composers and the music are printed only in Italian and not translated into other languages. There are translations of some summary notes and a lengthy rumination on the instrument used, but these are not so useful and the English translator struggles to convey the rather flowery sentiments of the original Italian. However, the recording itself is highly recommended.

Noel O’Regan

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