Well, I Actually DO Like Scarlatti – A Review of Jean Rondeau’s Latest Recording

Domenico Scarlatti

I had written previously some time ago that I don’t particularly like Scarlatti. Or to be more precise, to quote myself “I’ve never heard any Scarlatti that has touched me”.

I got quite a lot of readers comments on this, recommending some very good recordings of Scarlatti. And while there were some that I found somewhat interesting (e.g. Pletnev), I still really hadn’t found my way into the universe of Scarlatti.

I’m pleased to report I’ve finally found the first Scarlatti album I go back to on a regular basis.

Scarlatti: Sonatas – Jean Rondeau (Erato 2018)

Scarlatti Sonatas Jean Rondeau Erato 2018 (24/96) Warner Classics

I’ve mentioned Rondeau’s very good Bach album here; I really like this young French harpsichord player.

So I was naturally curious about his take on Scarlatti? Would it finally be for me?

Well, I’ve given it away above, the answer is a clear yes.

To be fair, an important factor is the very beautiful sound of the harpsichord Rondeau is playing, apparently a quite recent construction built in 2006 after historic German models by Jonte Knif and Arno Pelto just has a fantastic roundness, and none of the sometimes annoying characteristics of the harpsichord that can be annoying for longer listening sessions.

Rondeau,  winner of the first prize at the International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges, plays these with a power, energy, and conviction that is just blowing me away. Some other Scarlatti recordings sometimes can have that “typewriter” playing, none of that here.

I’m curious to hear what the Scarlatti experts, which I’m clearly not, will be saying about this new album.

In the meantime, I can strongly recommend you check it out!

My rating: 5 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Acoustic Sounds)

Author: Musicophile

I'm not a professional musician, I don't work in the music industry, I'm just what the name says, somebody who loves music. I've been in love with music for all of my life, took piano lessons for nearly 10 years, and played in several amateur Jazz groups. I go to concerts, both classical and Jazz, quite regularly. And I collect music previously on vinyl and CDs, now on my computer, and am slightly OCD on my music collection. You can reach me at Musicophile1(AT)gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Well, I Actually DO Like Scarlatti – A Review of Jean Rondeau’s Latest Recording”

  1. I already have recordings of all of Scarlatti’s sonatas through Scott Ross’ legendary box. This makes me reluctant to buy new Scarlatti recordings. Would you have a view as to how Rondeau compares?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only have one Ross album, and it never touched me. He has a great reputation and as mentioned I’m really not a Scarlatti expert. What I can say is that Rondeau really brings a freshness and energy I didn’t find with Ross.

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  2. I am quite surprised to hear that Scarlatti doesn’t ‘touch’ you – for me, at least, he is the ‘Chopin of baroque’, the king of keyboard vignettes, diverse in style, tempo and nature, miniatures that encapsulate a larger whole, and have no dull moment. I feel that this smallish, but condensed, nature of his sonatas makes them ideal for interpretive musicians, \ allowing them to sound intriguing and fresh whether played on a grand piano romantic-style (check out Sudbin’s playful Scarlatti or Pogorelich’s crystalline playing), or on a Cembalo, played with delicate touch by Cuiller, or more expressively by Rondeau.
    I liked Rondeau’s playing, but I won’t be able to live without the others, the many other players (did I mention Tharaud?!).
    There’s so many recordings that I’m sure you’ll find more Scarlatti for your liking (although it might hurt your bank account…).

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    1. Thanks for your feedback. I have no explanation why so far Scarlatti wasn’t part of my core repertoire. I’m somewhat hoping Rondeau could be my “gateway drug” into Scarlatti!

      Like

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