There are few recordings that grab me. There are few performers that make me jealous. There are few composers that keep me wondering. But this one does it all.
Okay, that sounds like a sales pitch. I retract it all. Instead I’ll give you a few sound bites, a few images, a few enticements to renew your interest, or incite your interest in Baroque music, the harpsichord, Domenico Scarlatti, Scott Ross, and big boxsets of hard copy recordings with actual physical media—plastic CDs, cardboard case, printed booklet of liner notes with something to read.
Scarlatti works within the rules of functional harmony. He never strays from the high Baroque style. He pushes no boundaries, and yet, his keyboard sonatas are a marvel of ingenuity. While strictly keeping with the canons of counterpoint he takes these restrictions and tests the limits of how playful he can be with them. After listening to scores of these spritely pieces, and there are 555 of them, I’m continually struck by the variety he achieves under such conservative stylistic procedures. Add to the mix Ross’s special grasp for the music. Impeccably performed and recorded using four different glorious harpsichords, it approaches perfection. I’m still waiting to hear one little misstep, one minor glitch, one something to let me know there’s a fallible human playing (I’ve not listened to all 34 CDs as of this writing). But the energy he instills and the delicately crafted rubato belies any form of mechanicalness to his interpretations. They are sensitive, confident, and penetrating. Scarlatti and Ross together put a smile on my face with every listening. And there I go again with the sales pitch. I can’t help myself. It might be Scarlatti’s creativity. It might be Ross’s consummate exposition. It might be the powerful harpsichords, or the exemplary recordings. It might be all these things amplifying each other.
Ross’s Scarlatti, it’s joy 555 times over.
(||) Rating — Music : A+ ║ Performance : A+ ║ Recording : A ║ Scott Ross, Scarlatti: Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Erato, 1988