Two Pieces after Scarlatti

ca 18 minutes
performed live here by Emily Green

I. Strange Blossoms:

II. Aberrant Fanfares:


These pieces are a shameless love letter to the Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti. I became infatuated with Scarlatti’s Sonatas while teaching my Form and Analysis class at Catholic University in the spring of 2015. I presented three different sonatas to my students, but I spent most of my very early morning commute that term exploring this formidable body of work (well over 500). While I had certainly heard a Scarlatti sonata or two over the years, I had never played any, nor had I spent much time studying them. During that term and the summer that followed, I found myself again and again in awe of the variety of expression in these pieces. After going through many scores of my favorite sonatas, I felt compelled to try my hand at writing my own.

My goal was to take a few of the general ideas that seem to surface again and again in Scarlatti’s work and try to incorporate them into my style (I was not interested in writing in an 18th C. style, and I never wanted to call these Sonatas). I had never written in a binary form before, so that was going to be in the mix from the beginning. I also loved Scarlatti’s appropriation of vernacular music from his time and place (Spain and Portugal), and managed to work winks and allusions to some popular music from my own time. The specific connections to Scarlatti include: the harmony in Strange Blossoms, which is more overtly weird due to a strange (even for Scarlatti) melodic line borrowed from Sonata K 30; and the dazzlingly playful rhythm of Aberrant Fanfares, which is an homage to the frisky surface of K 159.

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