VITTORIO RIETI: Music for Harpsichord & Instruments = Triptych for Two Harpsichords; Concertino for Five Instruments; Sonata Breve for Violin & Harpsichord; Pastorale e Fughetta for flute, viola and harpsichord; Sonata All’Antica; Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria – New World
“Scarlatti Illuminated” = 15 Scarlatti sonatas transcribed – Joseph Moog, piano – Onyx

VITTORIO RIETI: Music for Harpsichord & Instruments = Triptych for Two Harpsichords; Concertino for Five Instruments; Sonata Breve for Violin & Harpsichord; Pastorale e Fughetta for flute, viola and harpsichord; Sonata All’Antica; Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria – Marina Minkin and Mark Kroll, harpsichords/ Carol Liberman violin/ other musicians – New World Records  80764-2, 65:39 (Distr. by Albany) [1/13/15] ****:

“Scarlatti Illuminated” = 15 Scarlatti sonatas transcribed – Joseph Moog, piano – Onyx 4106, 62:40 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] (4/9/13) ****:

Italian composer Rieti, who died in 1994, stuck with neo-classicism his entire career, and loved the harpsichord. Six of his eight works for the instrument are on this CD, from the earliest to his last two compositions for harpsichord, when he was in his ‘80s. His teacher Cassella said his work stood apart in its clarity, gaiety and sophistication, yet hid a good deal of melancholy.

We have here works for two harpsichords, for solo harpsichord, two for five instruments including the harpsichord, and for violin and harpsichord. Performers are just perfect, as are most of the releases from New World, and much information is provided in the accompanying printed booklet, as with all New World releases.

TrackList:

1. Triptych for Two Harpsichords: I. Andante tranquillo – Allegretto
2. Triptych for Two Harpsichords: II. Andante tranquillo – Dolcemente moderato
3. Triptych for Two Harpsichords: III. Andante tranquillo – Allegro
4. Concertino for Five Instruments: I. Moderato cantabile
5. Concertino for Five Instruments: II. Allegro
6. Concertino for Five Instruments: III. Adagio
7. Concertino for Five Instruments: IV. Allegro
8. Sonata Breve for Violin and Harpsichord: I. Allegretto mosso
9. Sonata Breve for Violin and Harpsichord: II. Adagio cantabile
10. Sonata Breve for Violin and Harpsichord: III. Allegro
11. Pastorale e Fughetta for Flute, Viola and Harpsichord: I. Pastorale – Andantino
12. Pastorale e Fughetta for Flute, Viola and Harpsichord: II. Fughetta – Allegro moderato con spirit
13. Sonata All’Antica: I. Allegro alla giga
14. Sonata All’Antica: II. Adagio
15. Sonata All’Antica: III. Rigaudon
16. Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria: Cantiga CLXVI – Moderato/Cantiga LXXVII – Più mosso
17. Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria: Variation I: Poco Allegro
18. Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria: Variation II: Allegretto
19. Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria: Variation III: Moderato
20. Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria: Variation IV: Andante moderato
21. Variations on Two Cantigas de Santa Maria: Variation V: Allegro con brio

[audaud-hr]

This unusual CD is a survey of 15 of the 555-odd sonatas for harpsichord which were penned by the 18th-century master. The drama contained in Scarlatti’s little one-movement sonatas is completely different from most other keyboard music of the period and has had a hold over musicians and listeners for centuries. Several great keyboardists have embarked on trying to record all of the sonatas, but the musicologists keep discovering more.

Carl Tausig, one of Liszt’s pupils, was fascinated by the pieces, and along with Ignaz Friedman they exploited the drama and poetry in the works in transcriptions. They were among many transcribers active during the 19th century, and some continuing to the present, but they concentrated on Scarlatti. The sort of centerpiece to the album is the nearly seven-minute Chaconne by Walter Gieseking on a Scarlatti theme. Though Gieseking used some wild harmonies that would have been very weird to Scarlatti, the Italian composer/keyboardist would certainly have admired such sophisticated keyboard writing. Scarlatti was a real virtuoso of the keyboard, and his Sonatas (which were originally titled Exercises) contain lots of keyboard technique, but  some of these transcriptions call for even more dexterity of the fingers and arms. A quite amazing collection of 15 tracks, I must say, even though I tend to prefer hearing Scarlatti on the harpsichord instead of the modern piano.

One of the first things to come to mind for some of us would be “Is this Joseph Moog an offspring of the inventor and developer of the Moog synthesizer?” Well, guess not, since he’s a young German concert pianist born in Ludwigshafen. And there’s no Moogs involved in these very well-engineered piano transcription recordings.

TrackList:

1.   Harpsichord Sonata in E Major, Kk. 135: Allegro
2.   Harpsichord Sonata in G Minor, Kk. 12: Presto (arr. Carl Tausig)
3. Harpsichord Sonata in C-Sharp Minor, Kk. 247: Allegro
4. Harpsichord Sonata in G Major, Kk. 523: Allegro (arr. Ignaz Friedman)
5.  Harpsichord Sonata in F Minor, Kk. 466: Andante moderato
6.  Harpsichord Sonata in C Major, Kk. 487: Allegro (arr. Carl Tausig)
7.  Harpsichord Sonata in B Minor, Kk. 87
8.  Chaconne on a Theme by Scarlatti, “Aria” (Walter Gieseking)

9.  Harpsichord Sonata in D Major, Kk. 96: Allegrissimo
10. Harpsichord Sonata in D Minor, Kk. 9: Allegro (arr. Carl Tausig)
11. Harpsichord Sonata in B-Flat Major, Kk. 70
12. Harpsichord Sonata in F Major, Kk. 446: Pastorale allegrissimo (arr. Ignaz Friedman)
13. Harpsichord Sonata in E Major, Kk. 380: Andante comodo
14. Harpsichord Sonata in F Minor, Kk. 519: Allegro assai (arr. Carl Tausig)
15. Harpsichord Sonata in D Minor, Kk. 32: Aria

—John Sunier

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