Martha says Good morning, Scarlatti

Martha says Good morning, Scarlatti


norman lebrecht

March 03, 2018


  • Ricardo says:

    And a very good morning it is. Master!

  • stefan verbeek says:

    this the obligate encore…she plays it always after a concert

    • Hilary says:

      Scintillating as this is, I can’t help but wonder why she doesn’t venture beyond this Dminor Scarlatti Sonata to some of the other ones in the same key. His hit rate was pretty high.

      • Sue says:

        It’s super virtuosic, and she makes it look so easy. I always had trouble with any Scarlatti sonatas.

        • Antonia says:

          Once you take the time and effort to finally master one of them, why not get the most mileage possible out ofnit?

          I would love to have heard Scarlatti perform!

  • Charles Clark Maxwell says:

    Barenboim plays three Scarlatti sonatas in recent solo album, but it’s the SAME three that every student on the planet learns. Horowitz played them for years (admittedly with a few others as well). This area of the repertoire needs looking into more.

    • Emil says:

      Alexandre Tharaud has a very good CD.

    • John Borstlap says:

      There are ca. 500 Scarlatti sonatas. Only a very small number is performed at concerts, while they are not better than the others – actually, most of the 500 are remarkable little master pieces. Why are pianists ony performing that handful? Because that handful is always performed – following classical music’s programming tradition.

  • André Paradis says:

    Grateful for any Scarlatti we get from the great pianists…

  • Gustav Mahler says:

    Scarlatti? Horowitz, Pletnev & Pogorelich!

  • Robert Roy says:

    I was lucky enough to hear Mitsuko Uchida play one as an encore after a performance of Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto at the Edinburgh Festival. Without doubt, the most exquisite performance of ANYTHING I’ve ever heard!

    I asked her afterwards if she had any plans to record them but she said she was keeping them for her old age! One day, perhaps.

  • Marc says:

    Back in my UCLA days in the late ’70s, I attended an all-Scarlatti recital in Schoenberg Hall by the immortal Ralph Kirkpatrick. Simply the most courageous performance I ever witnessed. Totally blind, he slowly walked onstage, finding his way by holding onto a taut, waist-high string that led to the harpsichord, which he finally bumped into (with no sign of embarrassment). The audience nervously applauded the great man as he approached the instrument. Once seated, the applause grew into an ovation. Then, we watched as he touched the sides of the instrument, then the keyboard, placing his hands gently on the keys — doing this routine several times before creating a mental picture for himself. Then, he played, never missing a note. An unforgettable evening with an extraordinary musician.

    • Jerry Pritchard says:

      Yes, Kirkpatrick was totally amazing. I also saw him in the 70s when he played on our concert series and gave lectures at the Univ of Northern Iowa. He seemed to know all of Scarlatti and JS Bach’s works from memory. Such an intellect, such talent, such wisdom, such humanity. A very special musician and person.

    • Adam Stern says:

      I’d like to share a beloved anecdote that was told to me ca. 45 years ago in college by the harpsichordist Fernando Valenti.

      Fernando had once been a participant in a huge music-for-keyboards festival in New York: harpsichordists, pianists and organists aplenty took part. Ralph Kirkpatrick was another participant. Fernando said that Kirkpatrick harbored a famous disdain for the piano; he was a harpsichord-only man. Also on board at the festival were John Cage and his disciple/colleague David Tudor, the latter of whom performed a clutch of works for prepared piano by the former.

      Following the festival, there was a huge party thrown for its performers, organizers and sponsors. Fernando said that Kirkpatrick was thoroughly enjoying the freely-flowing spirits. At one point, Kirkpatrick looked over and saw Cage sitting on a couch, expounding on music before a group of gape-mouthed listeners. Kirkpatrick made his way through the crowd, sat down next to Cage, put his arm around him, and said, “John…you’re what the piano has deserved for two hundred years!”

  • Esfir Ross says:

    Ivo Pogorelic recording’s the best sublime rendition, above all great pianist. I collect a lot of DS recording-IP’s genius.

  • Robert Levin says:

    Mention should also be made of Alexis Weissenberg’s 1985 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Scarlatti Sonatas. It is a superb recording!

  • infopiano says:

    Inspired by Martha Argerich and Dedicated to Her
    Creation and performance by Christopher Falzone

    Falzone’s Notes
    “This piece should be played without the thumbs unless it’s impossible – not to sound so perfect as digital, but as an LP to sound “retro.” Even some “wrong notes” would make it stylish, as well as generally using the middle Sostenuto Pedal (P.S.)
    I wasn’t able to add to the score the noise which all LP’s make (“Psh-hh-hh-phhh”), but probably it’s enough to imagine it and always improvise”.

  • Elvira says:

    The divine interpretation of Scarlatti Sonatas by Dinu Lipatti,so perfect!

  • Meredith Kirkpatrick says:

    I think it is a misconception that Ralph Kirkpatrick did not like the piano. He recorded the Stravinsky Septet on the modern piano and he played the piano for pleasure, even giving occasional piano recitals for his friends. Here is what he had to say about the piano in a BBC interview.

    The Early Piano (Broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Music Weekly, September 23, 1973)

    There has always existed, and still exists, a school of harpsichord fanatics who regard the piano as an archenemy. This is not my feeling. For me there is too much in common between good harpsichord playing and good piano playing, even though the means and techniques of execution have in many ways been rendered almost irreconcilable by the emergence of the modern piano. And it is unthinkable that I should ever regard as an enemy the instrument for which the Schubert Impromptus, the Chopin Preludes, the Schumann Kreisleriana, and the Années de pèlerinage of Liszt were written. But its later development and the sclerosis that presently afflicts it are not exactly what I would have wished.

    • Adam Stern says:

      Dear Ms. Kirkpatrick,

      Many thanks for your post. Regarding Mr. Valenti’s anecdote, I “swallowed it whole” and repeated it exactly as it was told to me, attendant factoids and all. I’ll certainly temper it with the information you’ve kindly provided should there be retellings in the future.

      All that said – Mr. Kirkpatrick’s remark, whatever lay behind it, is classic.

      Best regards,


  • Saul Davis Zlatkovski says:

    It’s wonderful for pianists to play Scarlatti, but not wonderful when they play all the ornaments incorrectly, and add swells of dynamics that are totally inappropriate to music composed specifically for the harpsichord. Rosalyn Tureck developed a wonderful approach for playing Bach on the piano, by using the pedals as if they were registrations on the harpsichord, achieving different colors as well as dynamic levels and articulation. More pianists need to learn from the magnificent Wanda Landowska. Her piano playing is utterly remarkable.