Jacques Ogg, keyboard
Ever since the first collection of his sonatas, the celebrated 30 Essercizi per Gravicembalo, was published in London in 1738, the keyboard works of Domenico Scarlatti (Naples, 1685 – Madrid, 1757) have been continuously republished and performed. Thirty editions of different Scarlatti sonata collections appeared in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Nuremberg during the 18th century. More editions followed in the 19th century, among them the collection of 200 sonatas published by Czerny in Vienna. The great virtuosos of Romanticism, Liszt, Clara Wieck, Brahms and Czerny himself, following in the footsteps of their predecessor Clementi, included sonatas by the great Domenico in their recitals. Johannes Brahms had an extraordinary collection of Scarlatti sonatas, in seven 18th century manuscript volumes. Brahms wrote about them to his friend Elisabeth von Herzogenberg in 1885: “I have over 300 beautiful old manuscript copies, of which 172 have never been published”. These manuscripts, with abundant annotations made by Brahms himself, are today kept at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde library in Vienna.
In 1910, Alessandro Longo compiled the first ever catalogue of all the Scarlatti sonatas known at the time, a catalogue that was completed in the 1950s by Ralph Kirkpatrick, who established the number of 555 sonatas and a new cataloguing system which bears the initial letter of his surname. The Kirkpatrick catalogue, although questioned and expanded with new discoveries over recent years, is still the most widely-used reference.
The absence of manuscripts written by Scarlatti himself or of editions revised by the composer, with the exception of the Essercizi, create difficult problems for the performer. On the one hand, it has not been possible to establish a complete, satisfactory chronology of the sonatas, and on the other, there exist doubts over the authenticity of some works, as is the case, among others, of the sonatas K.144 and K.146, questioned by the academic, Professor Joel Sheveloff. In this sense, the main sources of the Scarlatti sonatas, apart from the Essercizi, are the two manuscript collections of sonatas, copied in Spain, probably between 1742 and 1757, which are today kept at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice and at the Arrigo Boito Conservatory in Parma. The Venice collection contains 496 sonatas in fifteen volumes, while the Parma collection has 463 sonatas, also in fifteen volumes.
Several manuscripts of Scarlatti sonatas are to be found in the Iberian Peninsula, mostly copied during the last third of the 18th century, held in different archives such as the Monastery of Montserrat, the Aranzazu Sanctuary, the Monastery of San Pedro de las Dueñas, the Archive of the Chapter House of Zaragoza, Valladolid Cathedral, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid, Tenerife, Coimbra and Lisbon.
Domenico Scarlatti was in the service of Queen Maria Bárbara de Braganza for about 37 years. In the inventory of the Queen’s goods in the Library of the Royal Palace in Madrid appear thirteen keyboard instruments: three pianofortes, an organ and nine harpsichords. Among the latter, three harpsichords made by Diego Fernández of Almeria stand out. One of them, whose description appears in Farinelli’s inventory published by Sandro Cappelletti, has five registers, four sets of steel, copper and gut strings, as well as split registers, with foot pedals to operate them.