Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Scarlatti - 32 Sonatas - Fou Ts'ong

Scarlatti - 32 Sonatas - Fou Ts'ong
Piano | Eac, flac, cue | log, cover | 1 CD, 253 MB
April 8, 2003 | Meridian | RapidShare

On this disc the Polish-trained and Chopin Prize Winning Chinese pianist gives us 32 solo keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. We get some of the most colorful and intent Scarlatti playing that has so far been captured on commercial discs. You can get the pianist doing very well in Chopin concertos, and a Beethoven/Haydn concerto disc, plus other repertoire - look at Meridian or Sony. Those are worthy efforts of varying sorts, no doubt. This Scarlatti disc however,tops all. So far it may be the very best time this player has ever spent in a recording studio, and we listeners are very, very fortunate to have access.

Scarlatti spent most of his life at the Spanish and Portuguese court. He eventually penned over five hundred small works, called sonatas; but these works are very much freer in musical form and musical fancy than strict sonata forms would suggest. Scarlatti wrote for himself, and for the Spanish and Portuguese princesses at court whose music tutor he mainly was. If either of those two ladies could handle these small but priceless musical gems, she must have been something more than a young dilettante playing in the court or royal apartments, as this very special music would have immediately lifted her, above even her high royal stations, thanks to the ineffable spiritual openings that this odd and unique keyboard music - rather out of its own time - embodies.

From the larger group, Fou Ts'ong has selected 32 sonatas. He has probably arranged them for contrast, or at least that is the net result of hearing this treasure of a disc right through.


Just about as good as Scarlatti playing on the modern grand piano gets. That's what.

Scarlatti wrote for the dominant keyboard instrument of his era, which was the harpsichord. Some of his works are sometimes played on the even more intimate clavichord - a household instrument of delicate sound and nuance which would have served in the most private musical moments. Problem is, how may a performer best realize Scarlatti on the modern instrument?

Fou Ts'ong solves this puzzle by adopting a Glenn Gould-like detachè touch; mixed in with plenty of Wilhelm Kempff clarity, mixed in with a remarkable musical intensity of brooding-musing inwardness and fantasy, mixed further yet in, with what seem like passing natural seasons of remarkable tonal color (saturated tonal color, but not so excessive as to light up with anything but bejewelled inner fire, all glowing). Now. This sort of playing cannot be taken for granted, no matter who manages it. I have not particularly heard such inwardness, steeped in fancy and concentration, since the famed set of complete Chopin Nocturnes recorded by legendary Czech player, Ivan Moravec. No waywardness or eccentric mushing about here, though; the music is completely center stage, every note.

Now mixing it up physically like Fou Ts'ong does here might not have worked very well; the disparate elements or dimensions of his playing could easily have fallen apart into discrete elements that did not suit a musical whole. He took great risks taking on Scarlatti like this, and he might well have failed, dismally. Happily, that is not at all the case with this disc.

Is this Scarlatti for people who dislike Scarlatti? Hard to answer. Fou Ts'ong is not about getting our musical attention here with flash - though his readings embody plenty of inwardly banked emotional and musical fire, brought down so dangerously to humanity from Olympus by dear old Prometheus according to ancient Greek myths. One hopes none of us will ever be chained to a rock for daring such musical heights. The nuanced, sparkling, and color palette on display here is unusual, brought up from whatever secret vaults are privy. These special colors and lights are revealed, not for their own sake (even as guarded personal treasure); but rather, shown in heart to heart confidence, shared vulnerably among real friends who love music.

Those who are already Scarlatti fans will no doubt be glad to add this disc to any existing fav shelves, even if already loaded with select, dear choices. Listeners new to the composer may also be persuaded; just do not expect that all Scarlatti will always be played like Fou Ts'ong manages on this disc. If he could lift consistently to this marvelous musical level, I would beg him to do all of the 555 sonatas or so - even knowing the risks ahead of time. Some players do not always do their best work in the recording studio, and perhaps Fou Ts'ong has sometimes been one of them. Here, however, he has been caught by the engineers at something like his better or best, most musically amazing and formidable self. It may be that playing like this when he was younger was what got him the Chopin prize in the first place. Good to know that the mature musician still has, deepened and seasoned, what his earlier piano competition genius suggested he had.

Highly recommended with not one whit of any reservation.--Amazon

Track listing
01. Sonata K32 in D Minor: Sonata K32 in D Minor 1:26
02. Sonata K164 in D: Sonata K164 in D 2:56
03. Sonata K484 in D: Sonata K484 in D 1:17
04. Sonata K318 in F#: Sonata K318 in F# 1:53
05. Sonata K500 in A: Sonata K500 in A 2:00
06. Sonata K474 in E Flat: Sonata K474 in E Flat 2:48
07. Sonata K550 in B Flat: Sonata K550 in B Flat 2:27
08. Sonata K208 in A: Sonata K208 in A 1:54
09. Sonata K107 in F: Sonata K107 in F 2:14
10. Sonata K380 in E: Sonata K380 in E 2:33
11. Sonata K531 in E: Sonata K531 in E 1:31
12. Sonata K210 in G: Sonata K210 in G 2:39
13. Sonata K461 in C: Sonata K461 in C 1:34
14. Sonata K304 in G: Sonata K304 in G 1:39
15. Sonata K99 in C Minor: Sonata K99 in C Minor 3:14
16. Sonata K540 in F: Sonata K540 in F 2:00
17. Sonata K162 in E: Sonata K162 in E 3:04
18. Sonata K163 in E: Sonata K163 in E 0:52
19. Sonata K246 in C# Minor: Sonata K246 in C# Minor 2:06
20. Sonata K247 in C# Minor: Sonata K247 in C# Minor 2:33
21. Sonata K378 in F: Sonata K378 in F 1:32
22. Sonata K379 in F: Sonata K379 in F 1:38
23. Sonata K213 in D Minor: Sonata K213 in D Minor 3:29
24. Sonata K443 in D: Sonata K443 in D 2:39
25. Sonata K262 in B: Sonata K262 in B 2:17
26. Sonata K215 in E: Sonata K215 in E 2:36
27. Sonata K158 in C Minor: Sonata K158 in C Minor 3:09
28. Sonata K193 in E Flat: Sonata K193 in E Flat 2:11
29. Sonata K481 in F Minor: Sonata K481 in F Minor 3:08
30. Sonata K513 in C: Sonata K513 in C 2:42
31. Sonata K394 in E Minor: Sonata K394 in E Minor 3:04
32. Sonata K95 in C: Sonata K95 in C 2:07

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