Scarlatti published just 30 of his 550 or so keyboard sonatas. They appeared in London in 1738/9 under the title Essercizi per gravicembalo (‘Keyboard exercises’). In the preface he warned players: “Do not expect, whether you be amateur or professional, to find any profound intention in these compositions, but rather an ingenious jesting with art.” Scarlatti’s sonatas are perhaps most famous for their flamboyant Hispanic touches, with hints of the rhythms and melodies of Spanish folk music. (The composer, born in Naples, spent 25 years in Madrid.) During his lifetime his music was not widely circulated and its impact and influence was largely restricted to composers like Sebastián de Albero and Antonio Soler who, like Scarlatti himself, had connections with the royal household of Spain. That being said, the works by Scarlatti’s younger contemporaries that are included on this album demonstrate the imaginative independence of Spanish/Spanish-based composers.
One of the world’s most prominent harpsichord and fortepiano performers, Andreas Staier embarked on a solo career in 1986, making his mark on the Baroque, Classical and Romantic repertoire. Born in Göttingen in 1955, he studied modern piano and harpsichord in Hannover and Amsterdam. He spent three years as harpsichordist of the ensemble Musica Antiqua Köln, and as a soloist he appears regularly with such orchestras as Concerto Köln, Freiburger Barockorchester, the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin and the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées.