Scarlatti: Sonatas for Two Guitars / Gray & Pearl Duo

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REVIEW:Did Domenico Scarlatti, who is most famous for his collection of more than 500 keyboard sonatas, actually write similar works for guitar duo? Unless you...


Did Domenico Scarlatti, who is most famous for his collection of more than 500 keyboard sonatas, actually write similar works for guitar duo? Unless you know the harpsichord pieces very well, or you're very familiar with Domenico's musical oeuvre, you will still be wondering after listening to this exceptionally well-played and musically invigorating recording. The interesting and otherwise very informative liner notes give no clue--and it's only when you examine the fine print amid the disc's technical information that you discover the truth: these 14 selections are arrangements "from the harpsichord originals". Well, it's easy to accept that these guitar pieces might be the true originals, given the fact that they work so well for this combination of instruments--and that the arrangements, by guitarists Julian Gray and Ronald Pearl, are so perfectly wrought and seamlessly played. This award-winning duo, often noted for its original programming and commissions of new works, not only has extensive experience performing together, but each musician maintains an active teaching career. Their performances here show nothing less than a commanding mastery of instruments, music, and of the kind of sensitivity it takes for two players to perform as one.

The closeness of the miking, which mostly is done to the listener's and music's benefit, carries with it a little too much finger/string scraping and squeaking for my comfort. I know that these sounds are part of playing the guitar--and these occurrences are only occasionally intrusive; however, it seems that today's super-detailed recordings sometimes let us hear things we wouldn't hear if we were sitting in an audience (unusually prominent clacking of keys on wind instruments, pianists' clicking fingernails or vocalizations, a flute player's every breath). Performers and recording engineers need to be sensitive to this and work to keep these often unavoidable artifacts of musical performance from becoming distracting to listeners--after all, without any visual or other concert performance cues and extra-musical sounds to process, we focus our attention almost exclusively on the sound, and finger-scraping becomes an issue. Nevertheless, guitar enthusiasts will find lots to enjoy here (we are reminded that the duo has published some of these arrangements), and others who want to hear some really fine Scarlatti keyboard music played in a new way shouldn't hesitate.

--David Vernier,

Product Description:

  • Release Date: March 08, 1997

  • UPC: 053479322623

  • Catalog Number: DOR-93226

  • Label: Dorian

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Domenico Scarlatti

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Julian Gray & Ronald Pearl Classical Guitar Duo

  • Performer: Julian Gray, Ronald Pearl