Croatian pianist Dejan Lazic kicks off the first of a provocative series of recordings with a delicious concert of Scarlatti and Bartók. In its gentle way, especially in performances of the beautiful clarity and poetry, it reminds me of a conversation I once had with Peter Bartók, the composer’s son, in which as a child he recalled falling asleep while his father played lullabies in an adjoining room.
The concept itself makes a lot of sense, not the least of which was that Scarlatti, a selection of whose sonatas were edited by the Hungarian composer for publication by Editio Musica in Budapest, often figured in Bartók’s recitals.
Bartók’s affinity for Scarlatti is not surprising. There is a similarity in their epigrammatic style that almost seems to link the groups of Scarlatti’s Sonatas with the groups of Bartók’s often folk music-derived Rondos, Sketches and Dances that they alternate with. The melodic material is considerably different, of course, but the composers’ ability to distill essence and capture flavor is remarkably similar.
Or, as Lazic writes in his Outstanding liner notes, both authoritative and deeply personal, “On the one hand you have Scarlatti who, after moving to Spain in 1729, composed almost exclusively for harpsichord and integrated elements of Spanish folklore into his compositions in an experimental way; on the other hand Bartók, who boosted the recognition of the rich native Hungarian peasant songs to an independent folk art, and was also influenced by Arabic folk music.”
The sound is exquisite in conventional stereo, and drop-dead gorgeous in SACD surround mode. Each of the Scarlatti sonatas provides a unique listening test for demonstrating your system, while the transcription of a seven-minute long Funeral March from Bartók’s symphonic poem Kossuth, provides a profoundly exciting workout.
3 Rondos on Folk Tunes, BB 92
7 Sketches, BB 54
Marche funèbre from Kossuth, BB 31
(arranged for piano by the composer)
6 Danses bulgares. extr. de Mikrokosmos, Vol.VI, Sz.107
Keyboard Sonata K420 in C major
Keyboard Sonata K58 in C minor
Keyboard Sonata K82 in F major
Keyboard Sonata K491 in D major
Keyboard Sonata K430 in D major
Keyboard Sonata K159 in C major
Keyboard Sonata K9 in D minor
Keyboard Sonata K17 in F major
Keyboard Sonata K3 in A minor
Keyboard Sonata K380 in E major
Keyboard Sonata K135 in E major
— Laurence Vittes