Scarlatti Sonatas arranged for Guitar

Marchionda’s arrangements of these sonatas are impressively idiomatic

Author: 
William Yeoman

Scarlatti Sonatas arranged for Guitar

Stephen Marchionda is an Italian-American guitarist living in Barcelona. Like Domenico Scarlatti before him, he is a foreigner living in Spain. And while in his booklet-notes he identifies as questionable the claim that “non-Spanish artists capture the allure of Spain more successfully than the Spanish themselves do”, it’s difficult not to hear in Marchionda’s insightful performances of a selection of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas a certain authenticity.

This arises not out of any obvious virtuosity – in this the likes of John Williams, David Russell or Manuel Barrueco beat him hands down – but out of skilfully transcribing the works so as to preserve as much as possible the original voicings, intervals and ornamentation and then performing them in a manner that likewise preserves their inherent colour, drama and humour.

This is immediately evident in the opening pair, Kk449 and Kk450, the one dappled in sunlight, the other ringing with ghostly fanfares. The delicacy of Kk213 makes a perfect counterpoint to the aggressive drama of Kk175, while in the multiple moods of Kk402 Marchionda uses a subtle rubato and plenty of changes in tone colour to magical effect. Kk462 and Kk474 have an almost tentative, searching quality about them that contrasts nicely with the sharp strums of the final work on the disc, Kk475.

Cross-string trills and agogic accents à la harpsichord technique further reinforce the notion that these sonatas work even better on the guitar than they do on the piano. And after all, Scarlatti was directly inspired by the sound of the former instrument. Highly recommended.

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