Listen: Domenico Scarlatti

I was going to write about Michael Tippett. But that needs to wait. I want to devote more time to reading up on Tippett. I don’t know him like I feel I do Britten. Familiarity is important, I find.

Resisting writing quickly and publishing in haste is a challenge when you’re blogging. Giving yourself permission to research, reflect, and construct is as much an exertion of one’s creative muscles as motivating yourself to the write the copy itself.

When I do, I feel myself relax a little. As though the barriers on the edge of the carriageway aren’t the sharp-edged metal constructions that could just as easily threaten life as save it.

Instead they’re cushioned with the kind of massive feather pillows all of us appreciate our heads sinking into at the end of a long hard day.

Moisturising Scarlatti

I’ve recently discovered Domenico Scarlatti.

I say discovered, I don’t really mean that. I’ve known of Scarlatti but can’t recall anything of his music in the same way I can other composers.

I found a playlist on Spotify and listened to it in the bath earlier this evening. It nearly brought me to tears. For 20 minutes or so, I’d found a moment of completeness. My attention wasn’t focused on where the flu infection was in my body, nor how much longer it might remain.

My attention was focused instead on the joy of discovering something entirely new and appreciating the way I was responding it to it on an emotional level. It was like going on an unexpected vacation. Bliss.

Soon after I met Simon twenty years ago, I was introduced to his friends. Many of them talked about the way they responded to music in a similarly visceral way. Almost as though they were describing the sensation of rubbing moisturiser into their hands.

It’s the same here. The sound of Scarlatti’s music and the way it triggers emotional reactions that moisturise a jangled mind.

Domenico’s G Major K.455 Allegro is taut episodic exuberance. Brilliance with punctuality.

The D Minor K.517 Prestissimo sounds like an elaborate sophisticated study set as an end-of-year recital observed by envious contemporaries. Its intimacy reassures me.

There’s efficient storytelling in the B Minor K.27, a mystery to be solved in the G Minor K.30.

And the F Sharp Major K. 318‘s delicate and poignant vulnerability is appealing. I hear authenticity in it. And pride. And resolve. And determination. It is the kind of music I listen to and I think, ‘I want to play that.’

  • Follow the Thoroughly Good Playlist on Spotify
  • Read the previous post in this series of Listen recommendations – Georg Phillip Telemann

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