Many things are unknown about the Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). During the first half of his life he lived in Italy and in the shadow of his father Alessandro (1660-1725), who was a much more famous (and productive) composer at the time, even though he is now less well-known than his son. The second half of Domenico’s life was spent on the Iberian peninsula. He worked at the Portuguese and Spanish courts, probably mainly as a music teacher to the Portuguese princess Marie Barbara de Bragance. During these last decades he also worked on what is now considered his most important work: over 550 keyboard sonatas (written originally for the harpsichord or pianoforte, but now performed on other instruments as well).
Although Scarlatti has always remained less famous than Johann Sebastian Bach or Georg Friedrich Handel, his sonatas enjoy a great reputation among lovers of the piano and the clavecin. The recording which the French pianist Alexandre Tharaud released earlier this year is generally considered to be one of the best classical cds to have appeared in 2011.
In 1953, the harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick published a catalogue of all Scarlatti sonatas known to him; this is still considered to be the most authoritative catalogue. Numbers from this catalogue (1-555) are usually prefixed by K or Kk.
I know of one complete edition of all ‘Kirkpatrick’ sonatas: the recordings made by the British harpsichordist Richard Lester. I made a different playlist of all Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas (579 track, total time: 1 day. Including a few not in Kirkpatrick), which is more varied: I tried to include as many different keyboard players as I could find, and also included recordings by guitarists, harpists, and even a violinist and a saxophone quartet. I also made a separate playlist of Scarlatti Sonata K9, as played by 28 different musicians.
As a bonus, the Petrucci library offers free musical scores of all sonatas. A very nice website is also the one by Christopher Hail, which offers among other things a great catalogue (pdf), plus a Calendar for 2012, with a suggestion for every day on which sonata to listen to (something done in 2010 by blogger Mimo).
Guest post by Marc van Oostendorp