Born in 1685, Scarlatti spent the majority of his career in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families – with the latter appointment enabling him to devote his full attention towards composing for the harpsichord. This unusual cultural background accounts for why the Italian’s music, though contemporary with that of Bach and Handel, differs so much in comparison–Spanish dance rhythms (such as the flamenco), and folk tunes with Moorish and gypsy-like flavours, indicate that day-by-day-street life was a great source of inspiration to Scarlatti.
Written in single-movement form, the 555 works comprising the collection also reveal Scarlatti’s development of new playing techniques, including note repetitions and fast passages in parallel 3rds and 6ths, not to mention his important pioneering of structures – which in turn point to the impending emergence of the Classical style. They are performed with gusto by Pieter-Jan Belder, whose assured interpretation does full justice to this important body of late Baroque music.
Harpsichordist Pieter-Jan Belder needed seven years to record all of Scarlatti’s 555 sonatas for keyboard, but of course he succeded in this admireable task and the results are truly magnificent. This release is the fourth volume, containing the sonatas Nos. 49 - 98.