Scarlatti - 18 Sonatas
Astrila AST232652-1 (www.josephpetric.com)
The keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti have long been a challenge and a treat for accordionists. Though difficult to execute, the fluidity of melody, contrapuntal intricacies, and rhythmic stability translate well to the instrument. Toronto virtuoso and international accordion star Joseph Petric shines in the 18 Sonatas featured here. Although many will be unknown to the general public, a number are familiar to me (and likely other accordionists) from student days.
Instead of the term “transcription” (which is frequently used in classical music), Petric uses “adaptation” in his liner notes to explain his musical approach and interpretation. His choices of somewhat narrower range of dynamics, and slower tempos succeed as the gifted performer has contemplated each musical nuance with care – Sonata K 209 in A Major is especially beautiful in its lyricism and motion.
Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas were written for an instrument that creates sound by plucking a string. Sound is created in an accordion by moving the bellows, forcing air to vibrate a reed. Occasionally a less than optimal tonal quality surfaces here – this may be a bellowing issue or just an adaptation factor – but this is overshadowed by Petric’s brilliant playing in the florid sections. Stylistically however, I longed for a more solid rhythmic sense which would provide a boundary within which to further explore his unique ideas.
Joseph Petric makes it sound so easy but believe me its not! His very individual take in “18 Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti” will have accordionists and non-accordionists alike listening, contemplating and enjoying for a long time.