For his first recording on Musica Omnia, Bulgarian harpsichordist Nickolai Sheikov presents a program of 15 keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, which are just a small sample of the 555 sonatas that have survived. Composed for Scarlatti's pupil, Princess Maria Barbara, later Queen of Spain, they served as keyboard exercises, as well as explorations of harmony and tonality, sometimes with startling results in their abrupt key changes and dramatic dissonances. Yet a number of them show a wild, virtuoso technique suggesting that more than a few were composed for Scarlatti's own use as a performer. In re-creating the music in historically informed style, Sheikov plays a modern copy of an 18th century harpsichord by Pascal Taskin, and his performances were recorded in St. Mary of the Hills Church, Milton, Massachusetts, so one has the benefit of hearing the sonatas on a fine instrument and the advantage of the acoustics, which give just enough resonance to the instrument to keep it from sounding dry. This is an auspicious beginning for Sheikov's recording career, and judging from this CD, future volumes of Scarlatti sonatas will be most welcome.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson