Enrico Pieranunzi: Enrico Pieranunzi Plays Domenico Scarlatti (2009)
Pieranunzi presents his Scarlatti three ways: as the sonata followed by improvisation; the sonata preceded by improvisation; and as the sonata alone. This makes for keen drama. The opening E Major sonata is a high-wire act full of good news. When Pieranunzi begins to improvise after presenting the sonata, he weaves his variations tightly into the fabric of piece, creating a seamless work. That is thrilling to listen to, but does not compare to the next selection, the Sonata in C Major, K. 159, where Pieranunzi begins with his improvisation, stealthily hinting at the harmonics of the piece before launching headfirst into the sonata (at quite a clip, similar to Ivo Pogorelich's fast pace). Pieranunzi carefully avoids the "jazzification" of the sonatas, choosing to color within the Baroque lines.
Fast and furious is not the only way Pieranunzi plays his Scarlatti. "Impro K208/sonata in A Major K. 208," (sonata marked adagio e cantabile) is played almost largo with a pianissimo dynamic. Pieranunzi strikes upper register notes so lightly that they sound ghostly. The reading with improvisation is an ice statue, existing only in the moment. Pieranunzi's straight Scarlatti (Sonatas in D Major K. 18, E-flat Major K. 51, and F minor K. 239) is provocative and well played. It is obvious that Pieranunzi has spent much time with Scarlatti as theses sonatas show.
Of the High Baroque composers, Scarlatti may be the most friendly and accessible. He is more comparable to his contemporary Georg Frederich Handel than his other contemporary, Johann Sebastian Bach (all three sharing the same birth year of 1685). His 555 keyboard sonatas are a high water mark in music history. Pieranunzi's performances and improvisations are respectful and thought provoking. His approach to Scarlatti lends more to classical scholarship than jazz, but improvisation remains improvisation, be Scarlatti the improviser or Charlie Parker. Pieranunzi indeed creates something new and fresh out of this well traveled terrain. Hopefully that it never becomes rote.
Track Listing: K531/Impro K531; Impro K159/K159; K18; Impro K208/K208; K377/Impro K377; K492/Impro K492; K9/Impro K9; K51; K260; Impro K545/K545; Impro K3; K3; K239; K69/Impro K69.
Personnel: Enrico Pieranunz: piano.
Record Label: Cam Jazz