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  41:3 (01-02 /2018)
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Reviewer: Barry Brenesal

Roughly a year after Angela Hewitt recorded her first album of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (Hyperion 67613; Fanfare 40:2), we have a second. Perhaps to halt all thought of a continuing series, there’s no mention of this as “volume two.” In all other respects, however, it duplicates the virtues of the earlier release. Hewitt pays great attention to color and nuance, while remaining firmly within the camp of Scarlatti interpreters who avoid reinventing the music for the modern-day piano. Her runs and figurations are sec, perfectly even, and a joy to hear, never more so than in the exuberant Sonata in A Major, Kk 24—or in the sudden shift to F Major in the second section of the Sonata in D Major, Kk 491 (the first Scarlatti piece I ever played, and very badly, over 45 years ago). She strums the chords from bottom to a gleaming top, giving the music the airs of a proud Spanish grandee.

Hewitt isn’t bold in her juxtaposition of dynamics, but rather focuses on a wide range of minute gradations that she administers with care in slow and fast pieces, alike. This figures into her sensitivity to the expressive use of harmonic tension in these works, a good example being the second section of the Sonata in G Minor, Kk 426. I might question a tempo or two, such as that of the Sonata in E Major, Kk 206, which is taken for the most part slower than usual at a fast moderato, but the amount of detail upon which she lavishes her attention admits no ponderousness—and also sets the stage by contrast for the manic Kk 24, mentioned above.

Most of these sonatas are extremely well known and often recorded, save for a very few, such as the Sonata in F Major, Kk 82, and the Sonata in C Minor, Kk 58. As these performances of Scarlatti standards aren’t faceless, they never create that desire to move on which surfaces while listening to such competent but unimaginative readings as those of harpsichordist Pieter-Jan Belder (Brilliant 93222; Fanfare 31:2) and pianist Mark Swartzentruber (Solo 1).

The sound is excellent, and the recording highly recommended.

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