This is what 34 CDs of the complete set of 555 Domenico Scarlatti keyboard sonatas looks like. They were a gift to WBJC from the Franciscans, and I have spent months cataloging them for the music library.
Now, here’s what’s going to happen: starting today, Monday, June 2nd 2014, I will play 2 Scarlatti sonatas at 6.00 p.m. Monday through Friday until we have worked our way through the entire set from K. 1 to 555!
Scarlatti wrote these one-movement sonatas from about 1719, when he was appointed master of the royal chapel by João V of Portugal, until his death in 1757. Scarlatti was a teacher to the royal family, particularly princess Maria Barbara and, although he had written some 50 sonatas before he arrived in Portugal, he continued to write the bulk of his sonatas for his students. When Maria Barbara married Spanish prince Ferdinando, Scarlatti followed her to Spain, and you can hear the wonderful rhythms of Portugal and Spain in the sonatas. They are also incredibly inventive in their themes and harmonies, and are rightly recognized as cornerstones of the keyboard repertoire.
When the American-born harpsichordist, Scott Ross, became the first single performer ever to record all 555 keyboard sonatas by Scarlatti, starting in 1984, it was in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 1985. Eighteen months later, after 98 sessions, and 8,000 takes, the project was complete. Ross died four years later in France at the age of 38.