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Dip Your Ears, No. 3

D. Scarlatti, Sonatas,
Ivo Pogorelich

When Ivo Pogorelich is described as a "unique" pianist, it isn't always in the laudatory sense of that word. But he's always got something to say, and I, for one, rather like his Chopin Préludes op.28 and his Liszt Sonata in B minor. What a surprise, then, to hear him in these Domenico Scarlatti Sonatas, recorded over a decade ago, in which Pogorelich is one of the least indulgent players in the slow sonatas. Scarlatti's 555 (!) keyboard sonatas, written for the harpsichord and clavicembalo, work marvelously on the modern grand piano (although it took me some time to get used to it) and sound eerily modern at times.

One of Vladimir Horowitz's best recordings is one with Scarlatti sonatas, and Mikhail Pletnev's two-disc recording of Scarlatti sonatas was just re-issued at budget price. Pogorelich's one-hour recording seems to overlap more with Pletnev's than it actually does, and he is every bit as good as his compatriot. Unlike Pletnev, he doesn't exaggerate every contrast in the sonatas, and he has funny ideas about the meaning of allegro in Sonata K 8, but all in all, his playing is more like Pletnev's than it is different. I find both superb and am tempted to give a slight edge to Pletnev over Pogorelich. It is a great Scarlatti CD to have, but at twice the price with half the music of the Pletnev re-issue (Virgin Classics), it can't be a first choice.

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