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Guiseppe Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)

Scarlatti was born in Naples in the same year as Bach and Handel. He developed harpsichord techniques that have become basic building blocks of keyboard writing. He was the first composer to call for such devices as the rapid repetition of a single note, the crossing of hands, and arpeggios. His keyboard compositions, entitled sonatas, are all short pieces. About 550 have been preserved; many have a recognisably Spanish flavour.

Sonata K208 in A major K208

Scarlatti composed this Sonata in 1753. It is Scarlatti's version of the vocal arabesques spun over random guitar chords in long arcades of extended breath, such as are still to be heard among the gypsies of southern Spain. This is courtly Flamenco music, rendered elegant and suitable for the confines of the Royal palace. CD availablePurchase now!.

Sonata K175 in A minor

This Sonata was composed in 1752. Here Scarlatti succeeds in making conventional harmonies with slight changes sound quite extraordinary for the period. The Sonata has real Spanish character with vitality and bravura. Musically, the guitar-like sounds of the left hand chords are particularly fascinating. CD availablePurchase now!.

Sonata K513 in C major Sonata K513 in C major (Midi) Sonata K513 in C major (MPEG)

This Pastorale was composed in 1756 during Scarlatti's late period. It recalls the piping of the shepherds who came down into Rome from the surrounding hills at Christmas time. They begin in a moderate tempo, the drone of their bagpipes is heard in a quicker section, and finally they celebrate in a joyful Presto. CD availablePurchase now!.

Acknowledgments: Microsoft® Encarta® 96 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation; Ralph Kirkpatrick, Domenico Scarlatti, Princeton 1953; Howard Ferguson.

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