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This is a nicely structured recital of 15 sonatas by Scarlatti, including three works from Essercizi per gravicembalo (K1-30), a collection of 30 timeless keyboard gems published in 1738. The Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland has assembled a programme that draws on the composer’s entire keyboard output, ranging from the early sonatas to three later ones: K514 (C major), K534 (D major) and K551 (B-flat major) – though their dating is conjectural.

Hadland’s grouping of the sonatas works nicely in terms of tonal relationships. In the first five, he places the B-flat (K112) and B minor (K27) between two E major sonatas, K135 and K20. Following the F-sharp K318 comes another set of five, alternating G and C – first major (K427, 514, 431), then minor (K11, 43). The final group follows a key sequence of D (K534), B-flat (K551), D (K430), then back to the opening E major (K215) with a coda in A minor, K109.

Hadland is not attempting to construct an hour-long meta-sonata, but rather to provide a meaningful context in which to let each work flow. He has a fine feeling for line and is alive to the wide range of colours – many of them of Hispanic hue – that infuse these remarkable pieces, such as K20, K318 or the Tempo di Ballo of K430. Simax’s sound is beautifully balanced and clear.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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