Enrico Pieranunzi: K531 / Impro K531


K531 / Impro K531



Plays Domenico Scarlatti (Sonatas and Improvisations) (Cam Jazz)

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Enrico Pieranunzi (piano).

Composed by Domenico Scarlatti


Recorded: Ludwigsburg, Germany, December 8-9, 2007


Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

Composers from the Baroque period have often inspired jazz musicians. Some have just used harmonic patterns from those works, others melodic themes, but all have recognized composers whose music swung before the term even existed. Bach has of course been the main provider of this Baroque material. Enrico Pieranunzi, besides being a renowned jazz pianist, has been a classical piano teacher for most of his life, yet was never keen on mixing genres. Here, for the first time in his career, he tackles some of the sonatas composed by Domenico Scarlatti, an Italian composer who lived at the same time as Bach but has seldom inspired jazz adaptations. (Searchers might be interested in a fragment of the K9 sonata played by Teddy Wilson in the studio during a pause on 01/21/42, which is the only previous occurrence I know of Scarlatti in jazz). Among Scarlatti's 500+ sonatas, Pieranunzi chose 14, and either just plays them according to the score or adds an improv on the written material.

"K531/Impro K531" is the only track in common with an earlier record by Vladimir Horowitz, who in the 1940s and '50s restored Scarlatti to fame after being mostly relegated to piano exercises. On this same K531 sonata, it's interesting to compare Pieranunzi's choices to those of a pianist who put his imprint on these works and who, though he was strictly a classical interpreter, was often spotted as a listener in jazz clubs, particularly when Art Tatum was performing. Horowitz's version is crystal clear, rather slow, and lets the two hands ride independently, making the piece's polyphonic construction obvious. He also uses lots of piano and forte nuances, with a feel for time that sounds a bit like slow swinging.

Pieranunzi is comparatively fast, emphasizing the contrast between treble and lows rather than between right and left hands. He also tends to play rubato, dragging this Baroque composition towards the spirit of the Romantic period. Of course, these are artistic choices and each can be respected as such. During his improv, Pieranunzi confirms his "romantic" options, displaying a beautiful piano touch and virtuoso streaks that make a frequent use of the pedal, among some more formal developments. While one cannot but be impressed, one may wonder why Scarlatti should have served as a pretext for something so far removed from his universe. Lovers of beautiful piano will be satisfied by this effort. Those who believe the ground between Baroque music and jazz hasn't yet been fully explored may be disappointed by an attempt that globally misses the point.

Reviewer: Thierry Quénum

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