In the Twentieth Century, it was the prominent pianists from the former Eastern Bloc who championed the cause of Domenico Scarlatti and his Keyboard Sonatas. Russians Vladimir Horowitz, Emil Gilels, Nikolai Demidenko, and Mikhail Pletnev, Hungarians Bele Bartok and András Schiff, Romanian Dinu Lipatti, Croatian Ivo Pogorelić all recorded Scarlatti sonatas on piano and all in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. Joining this group is Novosibirsk-native Evgeny Zarafiants with his Volume 6 to Naxos’ Complete Keyboard Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti.
Zarafiants approach to Scarlatti is most comparable to Jeno Jando’s Volume 3 in this series. Zarafiants introduces his collections with sprightly played sonatas that sound as if recorded on the harpsichord or pianoforte. This is best heard on the Sonata in E major, "K.135," marked "allegro" (and a very brisk allegro it is). His articulation is more precise than Horowitz with equal force and power.
Zarafiants transforms other sonatas, such as the Sonata in G major, "K.259," marked "andante" and Sonata in F major, "K.419," marked "Presto" drawing from them performances as if the music were composed yesterday. The pianist perfect casts Scarlatti’s “nursery rhyme” melodies as in Sonata in G major, "K.169," marked "allegro" and Sonata in C major, "K.502," marked "Allegro." Sonata in F major, "K.19" marked "Allegro" is played romantically as if Scarlatti were seeing beyond the Baroque horizon and past Classicism. The most contemplative piece is the Sonata in C sharp minor, "K.247," marked "Allegro" (perhaps a slow one). Scarlatti’s use of color is well served by Zarafiants, who endeavors to uncover all shades.
The Naxos Scarlatti series is uniformly fine. It is difficult to assign superiority to any one recording in the series. Evgeny Zarafiants makes a compelling musical argument for his Volume 6