“Bach’s Preludes are on holiday at the Mediterranean” – the wonderful alliance of polyphonic fluency and musical delight in Domenico Scarlatti’s piano sonatas could be described thus. Originally composed for harpsichord, these pieces exhaust the technical and tonal possibilities of keyboard instruments in such a refined manner that pianists have never been able to resist playing them on modern pianos, whether grand or upright. We have chosen one of the most popular sonatas with a moderate level of difficulty (level 4/5) from our extensive three-volume Urtext edition (HN 395, 451, 476). This single edition is an asset for teaching and provide an ideal introduction to Scarlatti’s fascinating musical language.
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Today Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) is considered one of the great keyboard composers in music history. By 1709 he had already entered – and allegedly won – a virtuoso contest on the harpsichord with Handel in Rome. Nevertheless, the bulk of his well over 500 keyboard sonatas did not originate until after 1719 when the composer was in the second half of his life. In this … more
About the composer
Harpsichordist and most important composer of harpsichord sonatas in the first half of the eighteenth century. He left behind over 550 compositions for harpsichord; operas; chamber cantatas; liturgical music, and twelve sinfonias.
|1685||Born in Naples on October 26, the son of Alessandro Scarlatti.|
|1703/04||Commissioned to write three operas for the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples.|
|1705||Living in Venice.|
|from 1709||Music director in Rome; performances of seven operas for Queen Marie Casimire, including “Tetide in Sciro” (1712), “Ifigenia in Aulide” and “Ifigenia in Tauri” (1713), “Amor d’un ombra e gelosia d’un’aura” (“The Love of a Shade and the Jealousy of an Aura,” 1714; in London as “Narciso” in 1720). Composes chamber cantatas and liturgical music.|
|1714||Music director of the Cappella Giulia at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. During this time, he writes his Stabat Mater. Further opera premieres at the Teatro Capranica.|
|1719||Director of the royal musical chapel under João V. Composition of serenades and harpsichord pieces for Maria Barbara, the later queen of Spain.|
|from 1728||Employment at the Spanish court for the musical entertainment of Ferdinando and Maria Barbara. Instead of operas he now primarily composes harpsichord pieces that frequently adopt features of Iberian folk music (fandangos, seguidillas, polos, boleros); he thereby creates an innovative musical style that does not comply with the rules of strict counterpoint.|
|1738/39||Publication of 30 “Essercizi per gravicembalo” (“Exercises for Harpsichord”), which make Scarlatti known throughout Europe.|
|1752–57||He orders the preparation of several volumes of his collected sonatas.|
|1754||Probably composes his “Missa quatuor vocum” in the stilo antico.|
|1757||Composition of the “Salve Regina.” Death in Madrid on July 23.|
The printing is crystal clear and although marked as "piano sonatas" they are thankfully devoid of any dynamic or other editorial markings that often mar the composer's original intention. (...) Those wishing to explore the delights of Domenico Scarlatti's sonatas would do well to purchase at a modest price, these "taster" volumes from Henle.