Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Sonatas: in G,
class="ARIAL12b"> in E,
Stephen Marchionda (gtr)
MDG 903 1587-6 (SACD: 69:39)
This glorious recording takes me back to some of the best days in my musical memory. The excellence of the music, the mastery of the playing, and the outstanding SACD audio engineering together come as close as I can remember to some live recitals I’ve heard in Madrid or Barcelona. This album of harpsichord sonatas transcribed by solo guitarist Stephen Marchionda is a gem. In particular, the reproduction of the guitar is superlative. It isn’t hard to hear the stand-out difference a good SACD recording makes. The smallest performance details are there without upstaging the content of the music, as sometimes happens. Particularly, the dynamic range, or the difference between very soft and very loud, and the ability to jump from one to the other, places this CD-compatible recording in the highest rank. I listen to many review CDs late at night (at my computer), through my separate headphone rig (so my household can sleep), which is like examining things under a microscope. I am not often pleasantly surprised, or startled. This CD did both.
Domenico Scarlatti’s music is simply a pleasure. Scarlatti has become known for bringing freedom of style to harpsichord playing, and guitarist Marchionda notes these sonatas are “playful and joyful” as well as “profoundly expressive.” He’ll get no argument from me. Somehow, he inserts little performance jokes or other unexpected reversals into each sonata for the amusement of the general public as well as guitar players and guitar fans. The American Marchionda’s joyful playing is period-perfect, though he’s becoming equally known for his affinity for contemporary music, and is equally comfortable premiering new compositions.
Marchionda’s guitar skills and musicianship are equal to anyone’s, and he brings Scarlatti’s goodies to the audience with style and grace, though I’d have enjoyed the inclusion of the Sonata in C, K 159. Marchionda has a considerable résumé, having won just about all the prizes available to a classical guitarist, and performed with symphony orchestras in many of the major cities of the U.S. and the E.U. He has lived in New York, London, and Granada, and currently resides in Barcelona. For more about him, go to StephenMarchionda.com. If you go there, and if you click on the reviews, you will read a list of valentines seldom matched. Rather than disagree with the prevailing wisdom, I’ll give them no argument. Marchionda is a guitar community treasure. If you’re a guitar-head and don’t know his work, you ought to. If you know his work, don’t ignore this CD.
These Domenico Scarlatti compositions are ever more pleasing than some others’ brooding or yearning. Marchionda plays them with great élan. And, lest I forget, the audio engineering of Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm deserves at least equal billing and praise. Kudos to all involved. Great job. Well done. Most highly recommended.
FANFARE: Ilya Oblomov
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