“Every so often a major pianist reclaims Scarlatti for the piano with an outstanding recording. As Ralph Kirkpatrick put it, Scarlatti's harpsichord, while supremely itself, is continually menacing a transformation into something else. True, the relation of the music to harpsichord sound could hardly be closer, and it wouldn't have been composed the way it is for a different instrument.
Scarlatti is marvellous at suggesting imaginary orchestrations and stimulating the imagination.
He makes us aware of different vantage points as the music passes before us, of the different tones of voice and rhetorical inflexions – as various in these sonatas as the events in them are unpredictable.
There are dances, fiestas and processions here, serenades, laments, and evocations of everything from the rudest folk music to courtly entertainments and churchly polyphony; and as the kaleidoscope turns you marvel at the composer who could embrace such diversity, shape it and put it all on to the keyboard.
Pletnev's playing is strongly individual, and his free-ranging poetic licence may not be to your taste. Not that his spectacular virtuosity is likely to be controversial: this really is hors decatégorie and enormously enjoyable. And the evocations of the harpsichord are often very witty, but he doesn't shrink from using the full resources of the piano, sustaining pedal included, and if you baulk at the prospect, he may not be for you. The sustaining pedal is certainly dangerous in music that's almost wholly to do with lines, not washes of colour; it can make us see Scarlatti as if through Mendelssohn's eyes. Yet moments of such falsification are rare. Characterisation is everything, and though he can be coy in the reflective sonatas, he generally goes straight to the heart of the matter. The vigorous, full tone in the quick numbers is a joy, and most admirable is the way he makes sound immediately command character.
Superb recorded sound.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Pletnev establishes a firm pianistic approach...The performances throughout are in the very front rank.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition