“I love the extravagance, the sunny glow, the light touch of Scarlatti,” says French pianist Alexandre Tharaud, whose second Virgin Classics release is a collection of the composer’s captivating and adventurous keyboard sonatas. His first release, the Chopin recital Journal intime, was described by The Guardian as “altogether breathtakingly beautiful”.
Scarlatti, born in Naples, spent more than 30 years of his life serving the royal families of Portugal and Spain and died in Madrid. His sonatas are concise, captivating one-movement works in binary form, often adventurous in their use of harmony and modulation, and frequently inhabited by the exotic spirit of Iberian folk music.
Tharaud explores 18 of these in extraordinary fashion, with the integrity, subtlety of touch and emotional communication he’s become known for. The album has been hailed by critics such as Tom Huizenga of NPR, who said when selecting this as one of his Top 25 Albums of the year (all genres):
“Alexandre Tharaud’s weakness is his strength: He can’t stop making albums of baroque keyboard music. Here’s hoping he never quits the habit. Alongside his imaginative Bach, Couperin and Rameau records stands this new account of 18 Scarlatti sonatas. Tharaud’s touch is multifaceted — sparkling sunlight, delicate lace, rivulets of melody and, as in this D major sonata, showers of cross-handed notes sprayed in many directions. Near the end, a gruff bark virtually shakes the piano. Scarlatti’s sonatas come in all styles: lyrical like opera arias, folksy with dashes of flamenco and graceful like courtly dances. Tharaud makes them all come vividly alive.”