Matan Porat

Variations on a Theme by Scarlatti

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When Matan Porat first heard the Sonata in D minor, K. 32, of Domenico Scarlatti, he was struck by a brief motive, based on rising and falling semitones. That sequence of intervals is a characteristic of many pieces of classical music, and Porat developed a program that connected 24 highly varied keyboard works that employ variants of that motive. Adding an Improvisation of his own and a reprise of the Scarlatti sonata, he created a 69-minute set of "variations" that take the listener on a journey of evolving ideas and expressions. The result somewhat resembles Bach's Goldberg Variations in its general shape, but it's much more variable and surprising in its effects, since Porat's linkages aren't always obvious to the ear, and he makes many stylistic leaps, running the gamut from the Baroque period of Couperin to the modernism of Boulez. Of course, this is no dry music history lesson, because Porat avoided chronological order and arranged the pieces according to their common moods and deeper musical connections. While some listeners will find the collection a bit arcane at first, the motive is eventually sensed everywhere in the melodies, the inner voices, the ornamentation, and even in the harmonic progressions. Porat's playing is subtly nuanced, sensitive, and clear, so even when the thread seems to be lost, as in the Bartók selection (track 6) or in the Boulez Notations (tracks 9, 18, and 23), he brings out enough of a connection to make the point for inclusion. Taken altogether, this is a fascinating recital that bears repeated listening.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 1:55 Amazon
2 2:12
Intimate Sketches
3 0:49 Amazon
4 1:55
5 1:05 Amazon
6 1:18
7 2:56 Amazon
8 1:38 Amazon
Notations
9 0:41 Amazon
10 3:20
11 1:50 Amazon
12 5:43
Partita No. 1, BWV825
13 2:24
Dances of the Dolls
14 1:31 Amazon
Toccatas
15 1:56 Amazon
18 pièces, Op. 72
16 2:27 Amazon
17 1:48 Amazon
Notations
18 0:26 Amazon
19 1:26 Amazon
20 14:21
Musica ricercata
21 3:08 Amazon
22 2:27
Notations
23 0:39 Amazon
24 6:29 Amazon
25 2:09 Amazon
26 2:19 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick