Only in the twentieth century the name of Domenico Scarlatti began to be associated with the guitar. Checking on the Diccionario by Domingo Prat (1931), his name is nowhere to be found among the composers for the guitar, while, curiously, we find that of Domenico Cimarosa. Once more it was Andrés Segovia who first sensed the huge possibilities which Scarlatti’s music could offer, if transferred on the guitar. In fact, the first ever transcription of a Sonata (K 481) for the guitar is by him, and it was published in 1935. From that moment on, following Segovia’s intuition, a wealth of transcription would follow: at times, they projected Scarlatti’s text into an original scoring, at times they followed already-historicized models.
The reception of Scarlatti’s Sonatas began early on, and this is an exceptional fact if one considers that the rediscovery of a composer of Johann Sebastian Bach’s standing would begin nearly a century after his death. Instead, shortly after Scarlatti’s death (1757) a first published collection appears, edited by Ambrose Pitman (1790). Immediately after this edition, a second, and more important one, intended for the fortepiano, would be issued by Muzio Clementi. During the entire nineteenth century, Scarlatti’s Sonatas would attract the attention of Carl Czerny, Hans von Bülow, Johannes Brahms, up to Granados, at the beginning of the following century. It would be Alessandro Longo’s task, in 1910, to attempt the realization of a first complete edition: Segovia would refer to it in his transcription, even though it is unavoidably flawed by errors, omissions and misinterpretations.
This historical outline reveals the inexhaustible vein of Scarlatti’s genius: his versatile scoring passes, without losing any of its riches, from the harpsichord to the fortepiano, to the modern piano, and reaches new instruments such as the guitar. It should be pointed out, however, that Scarlatti’s music was created within a context in which the composer already possessed a wide variety of keyboard instruments, ranging from the spinet to the Flemish harpsichord, up to the fortepiano. Several Sonatas are therefore conceived for different instruments, as can be deduced by their scoring and ranges.
Getting back to Segovia’s first transcription and interpretation, one should bear in mind that, at the time of the great Spanish guitarist, the interpretation of Baroque music did not depend on historical criteria. This is proved by the Granados edition, in which the Sonatas move away from the original text and are transformed into pieces with a richer scoring, emphasizing the dynamic and harmonic effects.
This same quest for timbre and colour was going to be the interpretive principle leading Andrés Segovia’s transcriptions. After that epoch, which was deeply marked by a late-Romantic view of interpretation, in the aftermath of the Second World War a new vision would emerge, grounded on historical research and opposed to the interpretive freedom which had inspired the precedent generation. Thus, a more severe, abstract and monolithic interpretation appears, which would characterize the history of Scarlatti’s interpretation, from Ralph Kirkpatrick to Scott Ross.
In the last decades began a new epoch of research and scholarship, aiming at reconstructing the original complexity of the Sonatas, deriving from the encounter between Italian music and Spanish influences, between the cultivated and the popular language.
In this perspective, Emilia Fadini, who edited the most recent critical publication of the Sonatas, offered fundamental contributions. Hers are the most profound studies which relate Scarlatti’s opus with Spanish music, not only at the level of suggestion (this had been remarked already by Ralph Kirkpatrick in his biography of Scarlatti, in 1950), but also through clear parallelisms between some elements in the music of the Neapolitan genius and the language of the cante jondo. In particular, Emilia Fadini points out that “the Spanish imprint does not always regard the entire sonata; very frequently, it appears in particular episodes or short sections within Sonatas with a completely different style, and this explains the pronounced and often surprising contrasts typical of a high number of them. It is not merely a contrast among themes with a different character, but rather the juxtaposition of diverse styles: the Italian and the Spanish, the cultivated and the popular. From the popular tradition, Scarlatti derives some effects, such as, for example, the extreme acceleration, the sudden and unexpected changes of tempo, the rhythmical accents which cannot be glimpsed behind the traditional tempo indications and the division of the musical staves into regular bars”.
In her analysis, Fadini demonstrates that scales, cadences and rhythms, in numerous moments of the Sonatas, are of a clearly Spanish provenance, and are connected to the Andalusian influences absorbed by Scarlatti during his stay in the Iberian Peninsula.
Here, then, Segovia’s intuition resurfaces, since the guitar was and still is the icon of Spanish music. In flamenco, the guitar accompanies dance and singing, and becomes the catalyst of influences ranging from the byzantine liturgical chant to Moorish features (as aptly pointed out by Manuel de Falla in his treatise on cante jondo).
In this programme, I wished to propose some Sonatas with very diverse identities. These range from the most famous Sonatas (such as K322, K213 or K380, which have already a long interpretive tradition even in the field of guitar performance), to those which have hitherto never been played on the guitar, such as K60, K279 and K73. All of them show, in a more or less evident fashion, this influence of Spanish music, at times in their rhythm (K380, K490, K291 and K292), at times also in their use of harmony (K176, K60, K73, K408). By way of contrast, anticipations of the style galante are found in the Minuets (K40 and K440), but also Sonatas which are conceived for continuo and a solo instrument, in two movements (K77).
It is therefore a kaleidoscope of styles, which I aim at representing in its ambiguity, complexity and variety, overcoming the stereotype of a brilliant and virtuoso Scarlatti: these two components are certainly found in his writing, but the pianistic tradition has, for too long a time, focused on them only.
Thus, as pointed out by Emilia Fadini, “the fascination of uncertainty forces us to propose analyses of all kinds; it encourages the affirmation of personal choices, the comparison with those of others, and their questioning every time one re-experiences them in the act of interpretation”. With this aim in mind, and connecting with the nineteenth-century tradition, I employed a guitar of 1851, with the purpose of finding a sound closer in kind to the sensitivity of the first interpreters of Scarlatti. I wished to seek the primeval dimension of this music, with its many identities, full of contrasts and of diverse emotional states.
Liner Notes by Luigi Attademo
Tranlsation by Chiara Bertoglio
Domenico Scarlatti Adventures, Essays to commemorate the 250th of his death, edited by M. Sala e W.D. Sutcliffe, Ut Orpheus, 2008 pp.156 e 196
Luigi Attademo: Award-winning in several national and international competitions, among the others the “Concours International d’Exécution Musicale (CIEM)” in Geneva (1995), Luigi Attademo began his studies in his village in South of Italy with Giuseppe Racioppi, and continued under the guide of the guitarist-composer Angelo Gilardino. Among his teachers, Julius Kalmar (conduction), composers as Giovanni Guanti, Alessandro Solbiati, and the harpsichord player Emilia Fadini (Baroque music).
Doctorate in Philosophy with a dissertation on the musical interpretation, he published a book about this subject. He has been contributor to several specialized magazines. He worked in the Archive of the Andrés Segovia’s Foundation (Linares-Spain), to catalogue its manuscripts (catalogue published on the Spanish musicological magazine "The Roseta"), and he discovered there some unknown manuscripts of important composers, such as Jaume Pahissa, Alexandre Tansman, Gaspar Cassadò and others, after published in the Segovia Archive Collection by Berben Edition.
He gave concerts in Europe, Australia, Argentina, USA, India and Korea as soloist as well in chamber music.
He recorded several CDs, from Baroque music to contemporary music, among the others, a double cd dedicated to Bach music for lute (2011) and the complete works for guitar solo by Niccolò Paganini (2013), on an original guitar from that period.
In the 2007, the American magazine “Guitar Review” dedicated him an interview and a CD with his recent recordings.
In 2014 the Italian magazine Amadeus dedicated him the cover and published his CD on Fernando Sor Masterworks, played on original French instrument (Lacôte, 1830).
During these years he started to play with the violist Simone Gramaglia (viola of the Quartetto di Cremona) and he published with him a new CD dedicated to Paganini music for guitar and viola (Brilliant, 2015); in the same year, he dedicated a programme to Boccherini Quintets, playing with Quartetto di Cremona and Cuarteto Casals (last concert at the prestigious Haydnsaal in Eisenstadt).
In that year he realized another project - with the support by the Ernst Von Siemens Foundation - dedicated to Hans Werner Henze music and his masterwork El Cimarrón.
In 2016 he was the first performer of the Alessando Solbiati’s new work for guitar and 15 instruments, that he recorded in 2018 .
In the same year he has released a new Cd devoted to 19th century repertoire played on original instruments, using six different historical guitars.
In 2017 he worked to a project dedicated to Antonio Torres, and he is giving many concerts playing original guitars by Torres. He is also the curator of the Exhibition dedicated to Torres by the Museo del Violino in Cremona. After he published a new CD, A Spanish portrait, performed on an original Torres from 1888, very appreciate by the critics and for which the Italian magazine Seicorde devoted him the issue of October 2018.
He teaches at State Conservatory of Castelfranco Veneto (Italy). He was invited as expert at the Geneva and Lausanne Conservatories, and from 2010, he was regularly invited to give lecture/recitals at Royal Academy of Music of London. He has been also juror in many international competitions (Pittaluga Competition, Mottola, GFA…).
Domenico Scarlatti (b Naples, 26 Oct 1685; d Madrid, 23 July 1757). Composer and harpsichordist, sixth child of (1) Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonia Anzaloni. He never used his first Christian name (which could have led to confusion with his nephew Giuseppe): his name is always given in Italy as Domenico (or the familiar Mimo) Scarlatti, and in Portugal and Spain as Domingo Escarlate (Escarlati or Escarlatti).