17th-18th Century Italian Keyboard Performance Practice

A wonderfully clear lecture/demo for us simpletons. I believe he misreads the 4 g naturals in the Scarlatti sonata first section? But anyway, it encourages harmonic improvisation in a piece that is usually performed exactly by the text, worth a try.

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Menuet K322: as we all know (and AFAIK as per current musicology), by default, in D. Scarlatti, all the trills are main-note trills, even those preceded by the same degree: in other words, the trill starts in the main note, unless the composer writes down an appoggiatura for the upper auxiliary, which Scarlatti did not do in this piece.
However, in this recording all the trills are played starting from the upper auxiliary instead: the player is assuming that Scarlatti forgot to write all those appoggiaturas…
But otherwise it is a sensitive playing indeed.

Yes, he misreads the four g naturals. And yes, I too find the upper-note trills out of style and musically questionable.
Other than that, a very fine performance.

Where can I learn more about the current understanding about Scarlatti’s trills?

Ed, thank you for posting the link to that video–fascinating and new information for me! I also would like to know more about Scarlatti’s trills. I confess I did not know they should begin with the main note, which obviously makes a big difference in performance.

What is the source/evidence for this? I’d be interested to know. [I have always thought this is right, but I don’t recall why!]

AFAIK the main-note trill was the standard in the Spanish peninsula, not just Scarlatti.
This is confirmed by the fact that when an upper auxiliary is needed as an exception, Scarlatti writes it as an appoggiatura, even in short fast trills implying a fast upper auxiliary. (In Northern European composers an appoggiatura on a trill is only found in long notes, directing to make the upper auxiliary slow, taking some time from the trill).

In the Renaissance and Early Baroque trills began with the main note. The shift to using upper auxiliary is described with “monotonous regularity” (words from Donington’s treatise "A Performer’s Guide to Baroque Music, 1978) from c.1680 onwards. Donington lists many such sources, and my own “Playing the Baroque Harpsichord” book lists a few more. Not a single one of these sources is from either Spain or Southern Italy. (I find online that directions for main-note trills are found in Gaspar Sanz guitar works, but have not checked this.)
Kenneth Gilbert, in his Heugel edition of D. Scarlatti’s Sonatas, p. VIII, writes "I am increasingly convinced that, as a general rule, short trills can begin on the main note unless the upper auxiliary is specifically notated as an appoggiatura. This occurs so frequently, even in rapid passages, that it is difficult to imagine why the composer would have bothered to write in the upper note, had its presence been taken for granted … Scarlatti’s practice must stem from late 17th century Italian usage … Little is precisely known about keyboard ornamentation of that period, in the absence of tables from Italian sources ". (and I would add also from Spanish sources).

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