Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) wrote over 500 sonatas for harpsichord. Fortunately, many have been arranged and transcribed for guitar and many await transcription. During 2020 and 2021 I found myself in the Scarlatti rabbit hole. I listened to hundreds of them, read through ones that I thought might work that to my knowledge had not been transcribed, transcribed many for solo and duo guitar, learned too many to keep track of, and am still learning. They captivate my imagination and they teach me a lot about myself and my playing.
Sonata in E Major, K.380 is, perhaps, one of Scarlatti’s most famous sonatas. With its march-like rhythm to the emerging beautiful lyrical lines, Scarlatti’s boundless imagination sparkles. I used a combination of editions (but primarily Manuel Barrueco’s) and the original score to find a version that works for my hands. Hope you enjoy it.
And as a bonus, while researching some of the sonatas, I came across this hilarious article ranking the Sonatas. : )
Canadian guitar virtuoso, Drew Henderson, plays his six transcriptions of Domenico Scarlatti’s harpsichord sonatas in these two videos. The first video has three often played Sonatas (K.490, K.213, K146) and the second video has two more seldom played (K.99, K408) and a guitar favorite, K.1. Though I’ve heard masterful interpretations of these by other guitar greats, Drew’s elegant playing captures the magic of these sonatas particularly well. His playing is crisp, crystal clear, and fluid. The quality of the production, the playing, the interpretations, and Drew’s brilliance come together in true art here. Enjoy.
The scores to all of these Sonatas are available on his website!
I often stumble upon Greek guitarist Evangelos Assimakopoulos’ videos when swallowed into the youtube rabbit hole. These are the videos I listen to more than once. I linger. Evangelos’ playing is lyrical, colorful, understated but virtuosic, and though I want to label the playing with the term “old school”, his playing is simply how I imagine guitar should be played.
Here is a video of Evagelos playing Enrique Granados’ Danza Española Nº5.
And, another one of him playing Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata K.474.
Here is more information on his duo and a link to his youtube channel:
This beautifully shot video of Italian virtuoso, Alberto Mesirca, comes via the Paris Guitar Foundation. Mesirca interprets one of Domenico Scarlatti’s more difficult harpsichord sonatas (K.239) in an almost effortless way in a magical setting.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Russian born and Israeli raised classical guitarist, Yuri Liberzon, is certainly carving out a name for himself in the rising generation of gifted classical guitarists. Watching Yuri play elicits incredulity at his extreme level of control. And once you get past the impressiveness of it all, you realize that what holds your attention is both the beauty, subtlety, and intensity of his musical interpretations.
A graduate of the most elite conservatories in the world, Yuri’s time with acclaimed guitarist, Manuel Barrueco, is most noticeable in his playing and in his repertoire. In a recent concert, he played through Scarlatti, Bach, Piazzolla, and Brouwer with an abundance of elegance and refinement. Active as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist, he also spends time teaching and publishing very detailed editions of his repertoire.
Stay tuned for one of Yuri’s favorite warm-up exercises and an interview!
When I was just starting to broaden my ears to the brilliance of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonatas, I heard one of my early teachers, Robert Squires, play through Scarlatti’s Sonata in A Minor, K.54 (L.241). He played all of the trills cross-stringed and his reasoning was that a harpsichord would also perform the ornaments cross-stringed. Whatever the reason, it sounded so wonderful to hear the crispness and clarity of the trills played this way. Since then, I have worked on a lot of sonatas and have found that regularly practicing the following right hand formulas really help to develop and maintain this skill. There is a lot of beauty in playing trills with slurs but in a lot of baroque keyboard music, performing trills and ornaments across strings is worth the work.