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American pianist Michael Lewin takes on the second batch in Naxos' set of the Complete Keyboard Sonatas by Italian Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti. The recital is fairly evenly distributed by Kirkpatrick designation and reveals a cautious and studied hand on the part of Lewin. As I suspect will be the model for all subsequent volumes in this series, the disc opens with a brightly colored major-key sonata, marked as presto. In this case it is the "D Major Sonata, K. 492," which Lewin infuses with a subtle momentum behind the hop-scotch melody, exuding a bright happiness. Lewin sets his performance bar high and keeps to that level throughout the recital.
Lewin performs several sonatas in common with those pianists before him. As one would suspect, he is most closely comparable with Mikhail Pletnev on sonatas "K. 3 in A Minor," "K. 141 in D Minor" and "K. 213 in D Minor." Lewin also possesses a similar, carefully considered approach to Andras Schiff on sonatas "K. 27 in B Minor" and "K. 517 in D Minor." The more slowly paced of these sonatas ("K. 213 andante") is beautifully played, displaying Scarlatti's affinity for slower, minor-key compositions. Lewin and Horowitz share several sonatas including "K. 33 D Major," "K. 322 A Major," "K. 146 G Major" and "K. 39 A Major." Lewin consistently stays within his vigilant performance lines on all but the A Major, where he plays with all of the unabashed gusto, if not brute force, of Horowitz.
Disc highlights, as with "Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 1," are found in minor key sonatas. "Sonata K. 481 in F Minor" is graciously played with a gently considered tempo, andante cantabile. "Sonata K. 517 in D Minor" is quite the contrast to "K. 481," Lewin hitting the nitro switch while modulating through one of Scarlatti's more complex exercises. Michael Lewin's contribution to the Naxos Complete Keyboard Sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti inspires this listener the desire to hear the next installment.
Michael Lewin studied with Leon Fleisher and Yvonne Lefebure at the Juilliard School of Music. He lives in Boston, where he teaches at the Boston Conservatoire. Lewin has previously recorded for Naxos the piano works of American composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes 3 Tone Pictures / De Profundis / Sonata (8.223850) and Piano Works (8.559023, 8.225163, and 2 8.559046).
Track Listing: Selections: Sonata in D Major, K.492/L.14/P.443; Sonata in D Major, K.492/L.14/P.443; Sonata in A minor, K.3/L.378/P.59; Sonata in D minor, K.32/L.423/P.14; Sonata in D minor, K.32/L.423/P.14; Sonata in D Major, K.33/L.424/P.130; Sonata in A Major, K.208/L.238/P.315; Sonata in A Major, K.208/L.238/P.315; Sonata in A Major, K.209/L.428/P.209; Sonata in E Major, K.20/L.375/P.76; Sonata in E Major, K.20/L.375/P.76; Sonata in E minor, K.98/L.325/P.219; Sonata in B minor, K.27/L.449/P.83; Sonata in B minor, K.27/L.449/P.83; Sonata in D Major, K.436/L.109/P.404; Sonata in D minor, K.141/L.422/P.271; Sonata in D minor, K.141/L.422/P.271; Sonata in D minor, K.213/L.108/P.288; Sonata in G Major, K.14/L.387/P.70; Sonata in G Major, K.14/L.387/P.70; Sonata in A Major, K.322/L.483/P.360; Sonata in A minor, K.109/L.138/P.290; Sonata in A minor, K.109/L.138/P.290; Sonata in G Major, K.146/L.349/P.106; Sonata in A Major, K.39/L.391/P.53; Sonata in A Major, K.39/L.391/P.53; Sonata in F minor, K.481/L.187/P.504; Sonata in D minor, K.517/L.266/P.517.