No question, folks: Mikhail Pletnev's Scarlatti is all about the piano and piano playing. Would this virtuoso's perfumed pedalings and stretched-to-the-max rubatos have curled Scarlatti's wig? Maybe. Or what about Pletnev's shameless recourse to all the articulation and voicing tricks critics abhor in modern players yet can't get enough of from dead pianists? Purists may make a mad dash for the bunker, but this reviewer refuses to leave above ground, since his head's already stuck in Cloud Nine! Put simply, I can't resist such gorgeous sounding, awesomely controlled piano playing, bursting at the seams with spirited dynamism and the most playful musicality you can imagine. Listen to the endless dynamic gradations in the F major K. 17 Sonata, the D minor "Pastorale" Sonata's 400 colors in the first 16 bars alone, plus astoundingly even trills and smudgeless scales everywhere else. Pletnev also achieves a kind of chromium-plated melody-accompaniment separation in the operatic C-sharp minor Sonata K. 247 that possibly out-Vladimirs Horowitz. Now that EMI Virgin has reissued this 1995 release at an absurdly cheap two-for-one midprice-disc asking price, all piano lovers can afford to indulge their wickedest Scarlatti fantasies through Pletnev's delectable finger magic.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com