Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in D Major K. 492, Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in D Major L. 14, Scarlatti, Scarlatti Sonata in D Major L. 14, Scarlatti Sonatas, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press,, you tube, you tube video

Domenico Scarlatti with wailing gypsies, flamenco flourishes, and daredevil displays (Sonata in D, K. 492)

This Baroque era composer never ceases to amaze me. A forerunner of the virtuoso school of keyboard playing, Domenico Scarlatti offers a potpourri of what seems like incompatible ingredients in one short Sonata serving. (K. 492, L. 14) He starts with a sprightly staccato opening in the MAJOR mode in parallel thirds then continues to an inverted variant in the Relative B minor. This preliminary tonal/ emotion contrast blossoms in the course of the composition. Add in a metrical framing in 6/8 meter, and the player is challenged to feel the rhythmic movement in TWO, not 6. Duple compound meter is experienced as a ONE beat gesture occurring every three eighth notes, moving the composition along.

And like the wind suddenly blew in from the north, flamenco guitar flourishes intersperse the staccato thirds sequences, giving the Sonata its Spanish flavor. (Though Scarlatti was Italian, he lived and worked for most of his life in Madrid)

That’s not all. In the short space of 108 measures, the composer is a daredevil in his display of frenetic Major scales in dialog between the hands, offset by gypsy wail interludes in the minor.

Through 4 pages, the player is plied back and forth, indulging the melancholy sections with torrents of break-neck speed passages.

Talk about peak emotional shifts.

That’s Scarlatti for you, all bundled in one miniature that rises musically well beyond its size.


A Musical Journey: Scarlatti, Schubert and Chopin

Scarlatti and Chopin

2 thoughts on “Domenico Scarlatti with wailing gypsies, flamenco flourishes, and daredevil displays (Sonata in D, K. 492)”

  1. Thanks for this – a really characterful sonata. This sonata has appeared on one of our UK exam lists. I might be teaching it and was concerned when I couldn’t immediately play those LH scale passages up-to-speed. However they are getting there. I think you’re using the LH fingering of 54321321 and I have tried out the alternative fingering which puts 4 on F# thinking it might give better arm-hand-fingers alignment. I now find that the passages are improving and I can play at the same tempo (still below what I’m aiming for) using either fingering. So perhaps it’s a case of if you’re good enough to learn it then you’ll be able to do it either way – I don’t know. Do you have any comments?


    1. I’ll go back and check the fingering I used. But my general philosophy about fingering is that what fits one player, might not another. If you find that one works, esp at a break speed tempo over another, then go go for it. This comes up time and again at lessons..Therefore a sense of flexibility is at the heart of learning. On the other hand, no pun intended, if unwanted ACCENTS occur with a chosen fingering, impeding phrasing, nuance, then such needs to be examined as far as choices made.


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