Notes and Editorial Reviews
Harpsichord sonatas, Vol. 11
: K 2; K 3; K 6; K 9; K 11; K 13; K 14; K 15; K 16; K 17; K 18; K 19; K 24; K 25; K 27
Emilia Fadini (hpd)
STRADIVARIUS STR 33826 (62:14)
Emilia Fadini is a household name for anyone who loves Scarlatti. A respected scholar, she is responsible for a new cataloging order of the sonatas, which she defends with intelligence and passion. Having witnessed many rifts between interpreters and theoreticians, who tend to live worlds apart, it is a
relief to see it proved, once again, that thinking does not preclude feeling and vice-versa.
Fadini has embarked on the ambitious project of directing the recording of the complete sonatas of Scarlatti, and this is the 11th CD of the series, and should make happy the music completists. Instead of tackling all the works herself, as is the case for the complete edition of Scott Ross or the more recent series with Pieter Jan Belder or Richard Lester (both reviewed by me for
), Fadini chose to assign the CDs to different interpreters—an idea similar to that of Naxos—with the declared intention of offering the listener as much variety in the playing as there is in the composition of these works. In the Stradivarius edition, however, so far the interpreters are all Italian (besides Fadini herself, Raffaele Vrenna, Ottavio Dantone, Sergio Vartolo, Marco Farolfi, Maria Cecilia Farina, and Mauro Squillante) and if you disregard the occasional organ (Farina and Vartolo) and mandolin (Squillante), the harpsichord prevails, and there is no place for the piano (and thus Naxos’s selection of worldwide pianists is really not its main competition).
The present CD shows a musician very much in command of her instrument, and secure enough about the music to play with it. Indeed, Fadini takes a lot of liberty with tempo and inflection, and—at least to me—interpretative freedom is generally synonymous with quality. It is a quality here, as well, but somehow her personal view of Scarlatti, amply aware of the Italian master’s quirks, innovations, and absolutely riveting ideas, directs the gestures toward a sort of
style of playing. Even a smooth, beautifully singing masterpiece such as K 27 suffers from this rather “bumpy” interpretation.
Of course the harpsichord itself is not the most suave instrument; whoever listens to the same sonata on a piano will find that contrary to popular belief, although its sound might be lighter than that of its big black colleague, the harpsichord is a lot edgier than the piano, and capable of expressing a higher level of stress and aggression. So I am not expecting the delicate touch of Soyen Lee or the flowing mellowness of Pletnev or Horowitz. And in fact Fadini is far from being the most violent Scarlatti acolyte; quite the contrary: Hantaï, Sempé, Figueiredo, they all play with a stronger voltage of violence. But whereas that effect seems deliberate and theatrical to the ear, Fadini’s jolting versions fail to convince me entirely, perhaps because the trick is done too many times. To be fair, she seems to have a positively didactic approach, and her musical ideas are well defined and easy to follow. If not exactly my cup of tea, these interpretations are still highly personal and consistent, and will give listeners who already know these pieces an original and often refreshing take on them. I just wish Fadini would sometimes forget, for a moment, the form, the voice leadings, the exact performance of ornaments, and just let the music sweep her off her feet.
This is still a very interesting view of Scarlatti, one worth checking out. The harpsichord, made in 1989 by Gianfranco Facchini, is a copy of a 1782 instrument attributed to Vincenzo Sodi. It has a clear, delicate tone, and is a joy to hear. The idea of alternating harpsichords as well as harpsichordists is excellent and adds a welcome dimension to a project that merits applause.
FANFARE: Laura Rónai
Works on This Recording
Fernando Cortez: Pas des guerriers by Gasparo Spontini
Emilia Fadini (Harpsichord)
Written: 1809; Paris, France
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs.
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