Naxos’ Scarlatti Cycle: Volume 21

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 9

Soyeon Kate Lee was the featured pianist in Volume Eight of Naxos’ ongoing Scarlatti cycle, and now returns for Volume 21. Overall, her Scarlatti playing remains highly capable, sensitive, and refined, yet occasionally bland. She brings out the lovely harmonic movement in the B-flat K. 202 sonata’s central section with subtle gradations of touch, and sustains the G minor K. 60’s lyrical melancholy by bringing her left hand to the fore when appropriate. The C minor K. 129’s runs and roulades are pointed and precise, as are the C major K. 250’s startling descending trills.

I only wish that Lee would let go more in the studio. I miss the ebullience, scintillation, and dynamic contrast that she often brings to her live performances. For example, The upbeat E-flat K. 51, C major K. 143, and F major K. 168 sonatas ought to be more energized, incisively articulated, and imaginatively voiced. Lee similarly holds back in the G major K. 91’s central section, underplaying the music’s inherent fury. At least her playing benefits from warmer, fuller-bodied sonics than before.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Scarlatti Sonatas (selections): Horowitz (Sony); Pletnev (Virgin Classics)

  • Soyeon Kate Lee (piano)

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