DOMENICO SCARLATTI: 18 Sonatas – Vincent Boucher, pipe organ – Atma Classique

by | Dec 13, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

DOMENICO SCARLATTI: 18 Sonatas – Vincent Boucher, pipe organ – Atma Classique Multichannel SACD 2 2341, 73:22 ****:

So much has been written about the 550-odd harpsichord sonatas of Scarlatti that there is no need to repeat herewith. As with most of Bach’s keyboard works, there is little specific instruction as to what keyboard should be used, although the only sonatas published during the composer’s lifetime indicated – as most keyboard works of the day – that the harpsichord was intended. The king’s daughter for whom Scarlatti was the teacher, owned a dozen keyboard instruments – seven harpsichords and five early pianos, all different. After Scarlatti’s death a collection including some of his sonatas was published in Paris and titled Selected Works for Harpsichord or Organ.

Some of the sonatas, especially those with fugues, sound especially good on the pip organ. Organist Boucher has selected 18 of these and performs them on a mechanical action classical design organ with a very sensitive keyboard – even when the two manuals are coupled together. Without that feature some of Scarlatti’s wild finger-stubbing Essercizi would result in a disaster on the organ keyboard. The instrument was installed in 1993 in the Church of Tres-St.-Redempteur in Montreal. The longest sonata in this album – K87 in B Minor – works exceptionally well on the organ. Even the more energetic sonatas sound fine. I find hearing them on the organ to be preferable to hearing them on the piano. Horowitz is about the only one who seems able to bend the modern piano’s sound to these unique works. Perhaps since improvisation is so much more a part of the typical organist’s skills, the quality of sounding like instant improvisations, which is common to the Scarlatti sonatas, is emphasized. Both the simpler registers of the Classic organ and the clarity of the DSD surround aid in communicating the finest details of these often incredible works. There is none of the muddiness of symphonic-replicating French organ style, which would be completely inappropriate to Scarlatti.

 – John Sunier

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