D. Scarlatti :: Sonata K141
So I sat at in front of my computer, late afternoon, kind of exhausted from this long video edit, when the phone rang. Again that unusual kind of sound, a bit softer than usual, rounder, and, to be honest, quite relaxing. In fact, its tone was that pleasant to listen to, that I didn't reach for the telephone at Anja's desk. I don't know for how long I have been sitting there, the initial ring went over in melodies with all the qualities of Mozart's best works, contrapuntal fragments with a complexity far beyond even Bach's Art of Fugue, and some symphonic beginnings with a seriousness that makes Beethoven's fifth symphony look friendly. After a while the initial rang came back, now faster. I stood up. A fast voice in English with a clear Italian accent sounded in my ear:
'That was about time'.
'I said that it was about time', repeated the voice, now three times as loud.
'Who am I talking to?'
The voice did not answer. I heard a deep voice in the background to which the telephone voice replied that this phone call just was a technical check-up.
I could hear the heavy step of a man that slowly went away.
The voice came back.
'We can talk. Where were we?'
'I have no idea. Who am I talking to, if I may ask?'
'You know what I think? I think that they made a mistake to appoint him as supervisor. Not that he is not capable for the job, in fact he is very good in it, he is way too good at it, that is actually the problem. Way too good, way too organised, way too serious.'
He paused a moment as if he reflected on his own statement.
'And who is he?'
'Bach. Of course.'
'Which one you ask? Seems obvious no? A luck that they haven't chosen Emanuel for that job. We wouldn't be calling now.'
'I thought that Beethoven kept the telephone over there?'
I remembered clearly one of those earlier awkward situations that happened to me. The voice went softer.
'Don't tell anybody, but he is busy. In fact, he is messing up the atmosphere here quite a bit. Let me tell you this, but it stays between us, that Bach, I mean the old one, is constantly working on what he calls the final improvement of his contrapunt. I wouldn't have the patience for that, you know. But anyway, his last concert, a quite wonderful Passion I must say, wrong theme however, the direction here is rather tired of hearing the same story over and over again, which I can understand, but Bach always makes the excuse that it is about the music and that he feels most inspired with that theme. Blablabla. I think it is a diplomatic mistake. How would you react as a composer came to you, saying that he feels most inspired thinking on your son that is slowly dying at the cross?'
'I don't have a son. I have two girls.'
'I know, I know, Clementi even smiled seeing Evelien dancing.'
'You are watching You Tube there?'
'O yes. We have You Tube Red. No adds. Love it. Anyway, Beethoven messes up, because he wants to beat Bach. And he knows that that is impossible, even for him. And so he walks whole day with a face that makes you want to sent him back to earth.'
'Wish I could.'
The conversation went easily, and I began to feel at ease. So I asked why he started this call by saying that it was about time.
'O that', the voice said. 'Finally someone that not tries to play my piece as if he rides a Ferrari. A pity that I hadn't got that chance. I mean, driving a Ferrari.'
'O, mister Scarlatti, I'm honoured', I replied.
'You know that, when I came here in 1757, the big guy was already in charge? And you know what he asked me to do? In fact, it was not a question.'
'Do what I'm best at. Writing sonatas.'
'And you had written already some!'
'Yes, but do you know what number I finished today?'
'Please tell me.'
'Jeez! Can you not mail me some of those?' I asked.
'Stt, don't use that name. And no, that is not possible. Impossible to explain. But I'm sick and tired of it!'
'And who is playing all those works?'
'I am. We have quite good time management here, you know. I'm playing them every day. At least five times. And still have time to play all the works of my dear colleagues.'
I heard the same voice in the background. Friendly in a way, but clearly not to make jokes with.
'I have to run', Scarlatti said, 'thanks again. Do some more.'
'Did you play the clavichord during your live?' I asked.
But he was away. Only a broken triad was to be heard. No connection. I'll guess I'll have to ask that question in the clav -fb group. And I'm sure I'll get a answer closer to the truth there!
Afterthoughts on Scarlatti Sonata K141:
Main topic point: tempo and notation in this piece.
The making of Scarlatti, or: the woman behind it all.
If it was not thanks to Anja, my wife, not much would happen here on YouTube, ...and to be honest, not too much in my life perhaps either.
Just a glimpse here of what a recording/concert on location demands from her, and yet it is me who is being applauded afterwards. So this video as a small correction to that!
It is the second birthday of my father today (5th of June) without him being present any more, and also there she plays a key role in moving forward without forgetting. She is the real power and the love of my life.