This two-CD set is a sampler drawn from the set of complete Domenico Scarlatti keyboard sonatas recorded by Richard Lester between 2000 and 2005 and issued in seven volumes. If a full series is executed with care, the listener wanting a sample is often better off choosing a single volume from the series rather than the official sampler, but this one is the exception. It's unusual in several respects. First of all, it was chosen by the performer himself, not by the label. And Lester has taken a delightfully innovative approach to the selection. He had two criteria. One is expected: he chooses sonatas that highlight his particular interpretive emphases. Most important among these are the Spanish features in Scarlatti's sonatas, which many keyboardists skate over but which in Lester's hands could almost accompany a modern flamenco dancer, and the potentially pianistic features: Lester's set has used a variety of instruments he considers appropriate to the music, and four sonatas here are played on a fortepiano. (Here he uses an instrument modeled on one of Mozart's era, arguing that there is no extant Scarlatti fortepiano, but there are in fact still earlier fortepianos that might have been used.) Lester's second criterion is more unusual: he takes this opportunity to make a nod to his keyboardist predecessors, including favorite sonatas of Fernando Valenti, George Malcolm, Valda Aveling, and the grandmother of us all who enjoy Scarlatti, Wanda Landowska. This selection of pieces becomes not only a hat tip but an indication of the various ways Scarlatti has been approached down through the years. Highly recommended for any basic Baroque collection.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2