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GRAMOPHONE (09/2022)
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Piano Classics

Code barres / Barcode : 5029365102506

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Reviewer :
Jed Distler


Contrasts of mood together with unified relationships of tempo and key signature characterise one the most intelligently programmed and distinctively played Scarlatti collections to cross my reviewer’s desk in years.

Notice, for example, how tempos assiduously correspond between Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy’s granitic yet incisive E minor Kk98, his beautifully shaded E major Kk135 and his eloquently phrased opening section of the E major Kk162. Similarly, the disc’s first three sonatas amount to an integrated minisuite. The pianist’s measured tread through the D minor Kk1 gives singing shape to the détaché articulation and meticulously sculpted trills, setting the stage for the simple yet heartfelt D minor Kk32 Aria as a point of respite, followed by a less hard-hitting D major Kk33 than usual that nevertheless exudes bravura in every bar.

 Schmitt-Leonardy’s B minor Kk27 may be slower than Horowitz’s lateperiod performances, yet what comparably gorgeous long lines and inner voices! By contrast, the popular G major Kk427 goes like the wind, with lots of intriguing interplay between the hands. In the propulsive E minor Kk98, the pianist generates tension by applying minuscule agogic distensions. Conversely, kaleidoscopic nuances and dynamic gradations abound thoughout the E major Kk135, but not garishly so. Nor does the pianist’s curvaceous and tapered phrasing throughout the A major Kk322 lapse into mannerism or cliché. And for a masterclass in how to channel virtuoso panache towards musical ends, observe SchmittLeonardy’s dynamic and dramatic sculpting of the A major Kk39’s rapid repeated notes and double-note runs; dare I say that he makes Mikhail Pletnev’s breathtaking recording (Erato, 3/96) sound slightly glib by comparison?

Clocking in at nine and a half minutes with full repeats, SchmittLeonardy’s expansive F minor Kk466 seems less of a recital conclusion than an opportunity to unwind and decompress. It’s like positioning yourself for Shavasana at the end of a yoga class. What an audacious, original and profoundly effective way to end this deeply fulfilling and beautifully engineered Scarlatti programme. Don’t miss it.


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