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Welcome to the general discussion thread for the Domenico Scarlatti Recital.

Please use this thread for any discussion of the pieces. Feel free to comment on any or all individual pieces. Some members offer comments on each submission individually; others offer general congratulations. Either approach is appropriate. Feel free to offer more specific, technical feedback if the participant had indicated that technical feedback was welcome.

For those who wish to comment on all pieces, a copy and paste template for offering feedback can be found here:
Scarlatti Recital Response Template

Please use this thread only to discuss recital performances. If you have any comments or suggestions about ways to make the recital process better, please start a separate thread.

Enjoy the recital!

Sam

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I'm pretty ignorant of Scarlatti, his music and his life. I've just read some of his wikipedia entry for some edification.

Ignorance can be bliss, as listening to this recital is an unexpected delight.

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Folks -- this is a tech question, so forgive me. I hear that many performances on the Scarlatti themed recital sound great -- that is to say, rounded, precise, clear -- and others are bright, clangorous, harsh, etc. Besides the players' skill, which of course is consdierable, I'm wondering if anyone can provide advice on best practices in recording our pieces so they don't sound harsh. For me, I'm using a Zoom H1n, with no subsequent editing or modifying. I'm thinking placing the mic across the room, placing blankets on the piano, rugs under the piano, etc, anything to duplicate a good recording studio with good, solid sound. Please let me know, so I can improve my next recording. Thanks! -- Chris


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Hi, folks! Thanks to all who contributed to this Scarlatti retrospective. I'm certainly looking forward to listening to all the submissions -- here are my comments on those I've taken in to date:

JJHLH K32 I thought that overall this was your best of the three -- it was beautifully phrased, and particularly the shifts in melodic flow from lower to upper register were very effective.
K34 Again effective, but here I'd seek a slightly faster tempo, with particular attention to providing a gentle lilt to the proceedings.
K208 In section "A" You again provided some nice shaping details, and projected the harmonic shifts with authority. In contrast, Section "B" sounded somewhat tentative to me, and in addition you had a tendency to slow things down as the Sonata progressed, which for me did not work -- I'd make an effort to maintain a steady forward movement.

PianogrlNW (Ellen) I thought this was in all ways a very successful rendition of K87 -- in particular, I was taken by your control of dynamics among the various voices in the right and left hands. Also, your phrasing of the melodic flow felt very "natural" throughout. I'll be going back for a second hearing or two!

rwsavory Your semi-improvisatory approach to Scarlatti took me somewhat by surprise at the outset; once I got used to it, I found it to be rich in "good ideas".

K380 This was the least successful of the three -- particularly in Section "B", there were just too many harmonic imprecisions, and that aspect is for me the best thing in the Sonata.
K391 In contrast, I found your approach to be very successful; it was in spots charmingly humorous, much like some of Beethoven's early and middle period chamber music.
K322 Here I thought Scarlatti sounded like Haydn in his upbeat mood; there was also a nice sense of control in the overall movement.

Kevin1116 Your rendition of K491 was for me satisfying in all ways -- I could sense the effort required to get "the details" right; as you say, virtually a requirement for a successful Scarlatti performance! In particular, I noticed the elegance of the transitions between the hands, and the surprises in the chordal shifts. Well done!

facdo Your rendition of K149 was for me the most "authentic" Scarlatti to date -- I loved the "woodpecker" motif; his love of the repeated note as part of the harpsichord gymnastics. Wonderful phrasing, just very musical.

snejana Your choice of "Aria" displays a different side of Scarlatti which is less well known, but well worth presenting. I found your rendition emotionally compelling and effective overall, but somewhat too percussive for my taste -- you have a tendency to "stab" at the climactic notes, and so it doesn't "sing" properly at those points. But otherwise, a good effort!

Mosotti -- What a great idea! Pick a guileless, happy Sonata -- K95 -- and marry it with photographs of your daughter playing in the apartment! Who can criticize that? -- No fair!

Will be back with more comments after I finish listening (not today). Great e-Cital!

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Thanks Tim for the instructive feedback! I agree with everything you said. Great suggestions for improvement.


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Thanks Tim. Your constructive comments are very helpful.

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PikaPianist, your version of K322 made me smile. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I liked its spirit of originality. The first part lulled me into thinking this was going to be a very straight and staid rendition, and then you just took off. Well played!

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Hi again, folks -- here are the remainder of my comments regarding the various performances:

winterflower -- K185 This is relatively slow Scarlatti, and as is his wont, he tends to be pensive and melancholy when in this vein. I liked the idea of the left hand predominating, although I think it needs to be gentler, with somewhat more shape to the runs. In general, I think you need more dynamic contrast, but particularly on the softer end of the spectrum. Finally, I'd make a point of keeping the rhythmic flow VERY consistent throughout -- when you weren't sure of the harmonic changes, in Section "B" especially (and Scarlatti typically saves his most complicated progressions in the "B" Section of his Sonatas), you had a tendency to speed up out of nervousness -- but that's death to good Scarlatti playing.
K162 I had noticed that in a few Sonatas, Scarlatti had provided both a slower and a faster section, with different styles. In that context, I do not think you were successful in differentiating the two, largely because I didn't hear a definite pulse in the slower section to begin with. In both this one and K214, you need to sit down and make a decision on "how the piece moves", and then stick to it. In K214, for example, I couldn't pick up a definite 6/8 feel until the middle of the page, but precisely that aspect is crucial to the enjoyment of Scarlatti.

AssociateX (Liz) K159 I thought it was a vigorous, athletic approach to one of the better-known Sonatas, and by and large technically clean. Why slow up, though, the second time around in the "B" section? I had assumed it was to gain better technical control of the proceedings, but it was slightly bothersome to me. You can listen to SiFi's approach of this same Sonata, the overall quality of which I preferred, but yours was effective as well.
K466 I liked your passionate approach, and a "believable" use of rubato (i.e., not contrived). Your rendition of the polyrhythmic motif was convincing and well-integrated -- I enjoyed this very much!

Greta99 Your rendition of the four short Sonatas (K382, K11, K377, K213)was something of a revelation to me -- quietly virtuosic, with immaculately clean runs, phrasing, line, and dynamic control -- just a joy to listen to. The only Sonata I was familiar with was K377, and I've always played that one quite a bit faster, in the interests of showy brilliance. Many thanks for your submissions; most instructive for me!

Pikapianist I've come to expect renditions of special distinction from you, and your K322 certainly doesn't disappoint in that regard. I was especially taken by your subtleties in articulation and dynamic contrast between the hands, the myriad of details that serve to bring the piece to life. Absolutely wonderful; nothing to recommend!

cfhosford I found your rendition of K431 to be joyous, uplifting, and very musical. Welcome to the Recitals, thanks for sharing this -- hope to hear more from you!

dumka I had not heard K466 before, and so this was a new venture for me. This is Scarlatti in his pensive, sad mood, and quite frankly this type of Sonata goes on a little too long for me. You of course have the duple-triple polyrhythmic idea passed between the hands, but I think it needs to be supplemented with additional points of interest -- perhaps just the loud-soft contrast, or slightly more flexible rhythmic gestures, to retain interest. I'm thinking this may be no more than a matter of taste -- take it with the proverbial grain of salt -- but that was my reaction. Well-played, though -- don't get me wrong!

SiFi K380 Briefly put, this is how I like to hear Scarlatti played -- great sense of line and gesture, ornaments dead-on, appropriate dynamic contrasts, takes you on a journey -- deeply satisfying.
K87 This almost came off as a Bach Chorale for me, before characteristic Scarlatti-isms began to emerge. Great projection of inner voices, particularly in the "B" section
K159 For me, a well-nigh perfect rendition of this more familiar Sonata. Thanks for the Scarlatti clinic!

DianeS K208 I scribbled down "dutiful" when listening to your rendition -- the "notes" are there, but I didn't get the sense that you were comfortable with the results. Well, welcome back!

MarlaJackspiano K322 ("A" only) I had a similar reaction to the previous one -- the feeling that you weren't quite believing what you were playing, and "toughing it out", so to speak. Well, that's predominantly a matter of providing more preparation time, as I'm sure you're well aware. Keep at it!

Jordan Nylander A pre-comment: I don't know what your present recording set-up is, but I find all that reverberation unsettling -- it detracts from your performances; I remember I had the same problem when listening to your Beethoven submissions. I would definitely look into it.

K420 Frankly, I don't hear Scarlatti with THAT much rubato -- for me, there needs to be a consistent flow from beginning to end. I'd make the same general comment about K380 -- I'm just not buying the rhythm and tempo changes as the piece progresses; it's just not that episodic in character. Otherwise, I thought it was technically solid, again with the cavil that the sound is mushy and/or tubby, depending on the register.

Again, thanks to all who contributed, and to SamS for putting it together! Hopefully, see you in October!

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Thanks Tim! great insightful feedback as always. You have a perceptive ear, I hoped my slowing down on the "B" section of my K159 wouldn't be too noticeable but my train of thought was "oh let me not speed up because I always mess up and hit wrong notes" combined with "ok this is like the 10th time I played this in the past 24 hours and my fingers are tired". There were some spots w/ the usual bobbles., Can't seem to iron them out when I feel the red record button blinks lol

I listened to SiFi's version of K159, thought it was ridiculously fast..but yes, you are right - quite as effective..Great recital. I enjoyed all the pieces, if anyone had a YouTube link, I inserted my feedback on those pages..


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Yes, thanks for the attentive feedback, Tim.

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Nice recital! Kudos to everyone who performed.

I got close to submitting a K380 but I got sidetracked (I really just began to realize how much work I had left and only fifteen days to get there). Turns out the recital probably didn't need a 4th or 5th version of it. What a fun piece though--I'll polish it up maybe. That middle section is really interesting, but it would take me a lot of bench time to make it as musical as it deserves. I think I got there with the first 40 and last 20...I'll have to sneak it into a future recital once everyone has forgotten about Scarlatti... whistle


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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Greta99 Your rendition of the four short Sonatas (K382, K11, K377, K213)was something of a revelation to me -- quietly virtuosic, with immaculately clean runs, phrasing, line, and dynamic control -- just a joy to listen to. The only Sonata I was familiar with was K377, and I've always played that one quite a bit faster, in the interests of showy brilliance. Many thanks for your submissions; most instructive for me!

Tim, I love how you carefully listen to all the contributions and comment so constructively on the performances.

I was drawn to listen to these 4 sonatas that I was unfamiliar with and I really enjoyed them. Excellent work, Greta! I particularly appreciated the technical accuracy throughout, but more importantly the personal, intimate interpretations that really seemed to come from the heart. Highlights for me were the beautifully shaped ending of K.382, which you executed perfectly IMO; the charming, elegant phrasing of K.377; and the exquisite tone you produced in K.213, which really conveyed the poignancy of the piece. I agree with Tim that these were something of a revelation. Unique, thoughtful readings of pieces that aren't frequently performed.

Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Again, thanks to all who contributed, and to SamS for putting it together! Hopefully, see you in October!

I second that. You always do such a great job, SamS. And to the other contributors, I hope to find time to listen to everyone and provide some additional comments of my own. I love these recitals!


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Originally Posted by SiFi
. . . the exquisite tone you produced in K.213, which really conveyed the poignancy of the piece.

After listening to this wonderful, flowing, heartbreakingly sad performance again, I just had to get the score. This is going to be my next Scarlatti project. Thank you, Greta!


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04. PianogrlNW (Ellen) - Sonata K87 I was looking forward to hearing this after our discussions a few months ago. I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. I have no qualms about people using the resources of the piano (sustaining pedal, dynamic gradation, and so on) to breathe a different kind of life into these wonderful pieces, as long as it's done discreetly. You do a really nice job with your "Romantic" interpretation of this particularly wonderful piece IMO. K.87 is a work that really needs a plan, and you clearly have one, yet at the same time your performance conveys a spontaneity that is authentic and highly appealing. I particularly like the occasional gentle emphasis on contrapuntal motifs in the lower voices, your convincing (and generally not excessive) use of rubato, the shaping of the upper melodic line using dynamics, etc. All in all, a very personal but also stylish and coherent rendering.

My one quibble would be the few moments where there's some blurring of the texture resulting from what I hear as over-pedalling. I know I'm guilty of that myself, so I'm kind of sensitized to it. I try to limit the pedal to places where it can add tone color, using finger-legato as much as possibly to keep the long lines intact. (It definitely helps to have played the organ in my youth.) It's tough, I know, but I do think that less is often more when it comes to using the sustaining pedal in Scarlatti and most other pre-Classical composers.

It sounds from your "Additional info" remarks like you want to keep working on this. (Sorry to hear about your torn ligament, by the way; I hope it's on the mend!) If you do manage to pull another recording together, I'd be really interested to hear it. But for now, great job with a really challenging piece.


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Tim,

Your comments concerning my submission are unwelcome, I found your remarks to be harsh and patronizing - and not constructive at all. They came off to me as a slap in the face.

I had opted out of feedback on my entry form. You should have taken note of that and respected my wishes!

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Originally Posted by cfhosford
Folks -- this is a tech question, so forgive me. I hear that many performances on the Scarlatti themed recital sound great -- that is to say, rounded, precise, clear -- and others are bright, clangorous, harsh, etc. Besides the players' skill, which of course is consdierable, I'm wondering if anyone can provide advice on best practices in recording our pieces so they don't sound harsh. For me, I'm using a Zoom H1n, with no subsequent editing or modifying. I'm thinking placing the mic across the room, placing blankets on the piano, rugs under the piano, etc, anything to duplicate a good recording studio with good, solid sound. Please let me know, so I can improve my next recording. Thanks! -- Chris

Recording piano is tough... Where are you placing the recorder? The Zoom H1n has microphones in an X/Y configuration, right? Turn the recorder so that the microphones are pointing at the piano - so it's not standing up with the microphones pointed at the ceiling, but sort of lying on its back. A camera tripod is useful.

The closer you place the recorder to the piano, the more percussive the sound. So back it up 6 feet or so, place it on a tripod, point it at the piano, and adjust the levels so you have good volume but no clipping. That's what I would try first!

Sam

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Originally Posted by DianeS
Tim,

Your comments concerning my submission are unwelcome, I found your remarks to be harsh and patronizing - and not constructive at all. They came off to me as a slap in the face.

I had opted out of feedback on my entry form. You should have taken note of that and respected my wishes!

Diane, I am sure Tim did not mean to be harsh. I know I am devastated when I get a negative comment - that's what I pay teachers for - to abuse me in private. I listened to your performance and thought it was great, especially for your first time participating in an online recital. I know I didn't sound that good my first time. I hope you will not let it affect you too much and will continue to participate in the recitals.

Sam

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Sam,

Thank you for your quick and very kind response. Perhaps Tim did not mean to be harsh but his comments did come across to me as very patronizing and dismissive. He needs to be more mindful about how his remarks could affect others. As far as how this affects how I feel about playing the piano, well right now I’m not loving Scarlatti too much and I don’t feel much like practicing.

If I should decide to participate in another recital, would there be a way for me to opt out of feedback altogether? I was under the impression that if I indicated “no” to the question on the entry form asking if further technical feedback was desired, that would opt me out of all feedback, but perhaps I misunderstood.

Again, thank you for your supportive and empathetic reply.

Diane

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DianeS, I apologize -- I did NOT read your request that you didn't want feedback of any sort; in the future, I will make a point of checking that for each submission. In so far as the content of my commentary is concerned, I don't regard "dutiful" as insulting; indeed, for me it implies a sense of industry -- caring enough to get things right. Again, I apologize, but I wasn't looking to be harsh.

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Originally Posted by DianeS
Sam,

Thank you for your quick and very kind response. Perhaps Tim did not mean to be harsh but his comments did come across to me as very patronizing and dismissive. He needs to be more mindful about how his remarks could affect others. As far as how this affects how I feel about playing the piano, well right now I’m not loving Scarlatti too much and I don’t feel much like practicing.

If I should decide to participate in another recital, would there be a way for me to opt out of feedback altogether? I was under the impression that if I indicated “no” to the question on the entry form asking if further technical feedback was desired, that would opt me out of all feedback, but perhaps I misunderstood.

Again, thank you for your supportive and empathetic reply.

Diane

I would put it in the "Additional Info" section - say that you do not want comments. I think everyone reads those, while most people do not even notice the checkbox.

Sam

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