To inaugurate its Complete Keyboard Sonatas
by Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti, Naxos chose Tbilisi-native Eteri Andjaparidze. Russian pianists were among the first artists to champion the cause of Scarlatti sonatas performed on piano. Andjaparidze continues in the tradition of Horowitz, Pletnev, and Gilels who are among the better known Russians who favor Scarlatti for performance. Andjaparidze continues this honor to the Italian composer with a precise and respectful recital of a collection of sonatas concentrating on the latter third of the corpus.
In common with Horowitz, as that Russian serves well as a comparison, Andjaparidze covers Sonatas in F minor, K. 184 and E major, K. 531. In Andjaparidze shares Horowitz's vibrancy without his eccentricities. Her playing is fluid and carefully measured. On the E Major sonata, Andjaparidze affects a softer touch in the left hand than Horowitz (an understatement, to be sure). Where Horowitz is metronomic, tossing grenades in the lower register, Andjaparidze dances even handedly across Scarlatti's pastoral landscape.
Highlights of the remainder of the disc include the opening C major sonata, K. 487, which Andjaparidze asserts with command and attention. Also outstanding is her performance of minor key sonatas in G minor, K. 450 and D minor, K. 434. The G minor sonata illustrates the cusp of the minor key as it connects Baroque to Classical, looking forward to Mozart and his more romantically inclined minor key piano works. The D minor sonata is a study in aching gentleness, a work of empathy with loss.
The centerpiece of the collection is the Sonata in E minor, K. 402, one of the lengthiest of Scarlatti's sonatas; Andjaparidze summons all of her talent into this carefully paced, emotional composition. This is Scarlatti's minor key universe. Also covered by Andras Schiff respectfully, Andjaparidze takes her expert time in spinning out this masterpiece, making this fine collection worth owning for the E minor sonata alone.
Andjaparidze's musical bona fides are well acquired as her father, Zurab Andjaparidze, was a leading tenor in the Bolshoy Theatre and her mother an accomplished pianist from whom Andjaparidze received her first lessons. Andjaparidze was educated at the Tbilisi Special School of Music for Gifted Children. She made her debut at the age of nine and won first prize in the Transcaucasian Competition in Baku in 1972 after which she became the youngest performer in the Fifth Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow in 1974.
Andjaparidze continued her studies at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and in 1976 was awarded the Grand Prix at the Montreal International Piano Competition. She continues to perform widely and is a noted music educator, Faculty of Purchase College of New York State University. She has made several previous recordings for Naxos and its affiliates including Christmas Piano Music (Naxos 8.553461), Confrey: Piano Music (Marco Polo 8.223826 and 8.559016), and Prokofiev: Ten Small Pieces / Sarcasms / Visions Fugitives (Naxos 8.553429).
For introductory information on the Scarlatti Sonatas, see Domenico Scarlatti: An Introduction to the Keyboard Sonatas