Michelangeli, Gilels play Scarlatti


Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) was an Italian composer of the Baroque era. He was blessed to find employment for much of his life with the Spanish royal family, for whom he wrote works for orchestra and the opera. His most enduring, and it has to be said, astonishing legacy, is the 555 keyboard sonatas he composed during his time on earth. It was In a period when the keyboard was still rudimenatry, had less keys and a smaller, thinner sound. That he managed to create, with so little, works which were so unique from each other, and as a whole, are a testament to his ability, and to his spirit.

His Sonata in B minor, Opus 27, is rightly one of his most famous, and most recorded. I love the many different ways pianists have interpreted the work. Consider this recording by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995) an Italian pianist with a technic and ego to match his name, who plays it at a furious pace, with crisp intonation but always with space:

Then compare it to this beautiful, deep recording by the great Soviet pianist Emil Gilels (1916-1985). Michelangeli plays it in 2:46, but Gilels takes his time – 4:55.


And thank you, Domenico Scarlatti.

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David has studied history and political science at Melbourne University. His thesis was written on how the utilisation of Missile Defence can help to achieve nuclear disarmament. His interest in history was piqued by playing a flight simulator computer game about the Battle of Britain, and he hopes to one day siphon the earnings from his political writings into funding the greatest prog-rock concept album the world has ever seen.