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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Federico Colli Goes Loud And Proud In New Scarlatti Release

By Norman Lebrecht on May 11, 2018

Scarlatti: Sonatas Vol.1 Federico Colli Chandos
The fact that a pianist at the start of his career is prepared to defy the rule makers and play Scarlatti on a modern concert grand restores our faith in musical free-thinkers. [Scarlatti: Sonatas Vol.1 with Federico Colli. Chandos]
Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas, volume 1 (Chandos)

★★★★ (out of five)

It feels dangerously transgressive, and thus all the more enjoyable, to listen to Scarlatti’s keyboard pieces on a full-throated Steinway D piano set up in an English country barn. Why musicians submit so readily to the tyranny of political correctness — composers to the imposition of serialism, performers to the doctrines of period practice — is a mystery to me. So to find a young pianist at the start of his path who is prepared to defy the professorial rule makers and play a Bach contemporary on a modern big banger of a concert grand is a joy that restores my faith in musical free-thinkers.

Domenico Scarlatti, born in Naples in 1685, clashed styles with Handel in Rome and went on to teach a princess in Lisbon, spending the rest of his life in Portugal and Spain. He found a kind of personal fusion between ornate Italian and austere Iberian sounds and expressed himself fulsomely in a voluminous output of 555 keyboard sonatas. (You do wonder if there is a 556th sonata tucked away somewhere that was suppressed in order to preserve the memorable symmetry.)

Federico Colli, Leeds winner in 2012 and now 30 years old, seems to regard the sonatas as a form of escapism, a place where Scarlatti vented frustration at his marginal situation while Bach and Handel were plundering the rest of Europe. Colli plays the sonatas in an order of his own choosing to reflect the composer’s fickle moods. Not being familiar with more than two of the pieces in this first volume I am in no position to judge the authenticity of this order — but to hell with authenticity. What we get here is music-making of rare conviction and exuberance, a vitality that sweeps you up in a tide of invention and leaves you, after a fleeting hour, positively gagging for the second volume. Scarlatti hasn’t been this much fun since Horowitz left it off his encores list. Bookmark this project, a milestone in modern recording, and buy a birthday copy for each of your vegan, period-practice friends.

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas, volume 1 (Chandos) is available at Amazon.ca and iTunes.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Cleveland Orchestra Offers A Transcendent Concert Tristan und Isolde

By Joseph So on April 24, 2018

For devout Wagnerites within striking distance of Severance Hall in Cleveland, an important highlight this Spring is The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde, a “Festival Week” (April 21 – 29) focusing on the eternal love story of Tristan and Isolde, with the centerpiece being three concert performances of the monumental Wagner music drama.
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CRITIC'S PICKS | Twelve Concerts You Should Absolutely See This Week (May 21 – 27)

By Joseph So on May 21, 2018

Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of May 21 – 27.
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SCRUTINY | Canadian Soprano Tracy Cantin Makes An Unexpected COC Debut As Anna Bolena

By Joseph So on May 9, 2018

With Sondra Radvanovsky taking ill, understudy Tracy Cantin steps up to meet the challenge of the COC's Anna Bolena.
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