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Scarlatti's Steinways at Melbourne

The remarkable output of 555 Keyboard Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) remains one of the most original compositional contributions in Western Art Music. Pianist Ian Holtham has selected 23 of the sonatas sequenced into four baroque tonal groupings.

CD-1 opens with five Sonatas around the parallel tonic C/a; then six Sonatas around related minor tonalities up to four flats.

CD-2 begins with six Sonatas around related major tonalities up to four sharps; concluding with five Sonatas (plus one envoi) around the parallel tonic D/b, arguably Scarlatti’s most expressive and varied tonal area.

These four groupings are then assigned to a separate Steinway concert grand corresponding to the tonal and voicing attributes of the four University of Melbourne Conservatorium Steinway Model Ds in ways which most suit the musical characteristics of the four groupings of the Sonatas. These four instruments are the ones in current concert usage in the various performance locations around the stunning Conservatorium building that was opened in 2019.


Ian Holtham

Professor Ian Holtham is one of the most distinguished and highly regarded pianists and pedagogues in Australia and his performances of the great Classical and Romantic repertoire have played to packed houses and rave reviews for many years.

Press quotes

“Holtham captures well the breath-taking range of Scarlatti’s imagination. He draws us towards redolent Iberian air in the C Major K. 461, peppers us with flamenco guitar-like figuration in the D Major K. 492, and delights us with the piquant discords and novel modulations of the A Minor K. 7. The vitality of rhythmic and melodic invention of the F Minor K. 239 are displayed with complete aplomb. And in all of this Holtham’s crystal-clear articulation, impressive technical prowess, and thoughtful interpretative touches are constantly on display. The final work, the rarely heard D Major K. 435, Holtham gives with dazzling dexterity, and describes in his sleeve note as his envoi.”

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— Warren Bebbington, Limelight

“... his playing is brilliant and many of the works featured on the CD are extremely difficult technically, particularly the superb K435 ...”

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— Tony Burke, classikON

“Holtham provides extensive and welcome liner notes to outline both his project and his personal connection to the Scarlatti sonatas. Holtham’s approach is ingenious, clearly conceived and brings new insights to the musical world of Scarlatti. Holtham gathers the sonatas by tonality, into ‘four baroque tonal groupings’. A further consideration is the ‘tonal and voicing attributes’ of the 4 Steinway pianos at his disposal. Scarlatti’s music shares with Schubert the sudden alternation of full, sunlit passages, suddenly suppressed by a dark, inner melancholy. In such moments Holtham creates haunting, innerlich sonorities, which conjure up colours that I have all too rarely experienced from a Steinway Model D. Holtham manages to coax the Iberian coast, complete with flamenco references and guitar reminiscences from his Steinways. Like a chef, he has carefully matched the timbre of the respective instruments to the groups of sonatas that he has created. When I listen to the various groups, I hear not one piano but many – as the multifarious moods of Scarlatti’s sonatas are revealed. For me, the best renditions of the Scarlatti sonatas are those that cause the instrument on which they are performed to disappear, and I prefer to experience Holtham’s recordings in this way rather than to analyse the timbral qualities of four different instruments. That, from this reviewer is the ultimate compliment to the creator of these discs, which are highly recommended to all who have fallen, or conspire to fall under the spell of Domenico Scarlatti’s extraordinary output.”

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— Stephen Mould, Music Trust e-zine Loud Mouth

Audio previews

Track Listing

  1. Sonata in C Major, K. 420: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  2. Sonata in C Major, K. 132: Cantabile Domenico Scarlatti
  3. Sonata in a minor, K. 54: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  4. Sonata in C Major, K. 159: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  5. Sonata in C Major, K. 461: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  6. Sonata in a minor, K. 7: Presto Domenico Scarlatti
  7. Sonata in e minor, K. 263: Andante Domenico Scarlatti
  8. Sonata in d minor, K. 517: Prestissimo Domenico Scarlatti
  9. Sonata in g minor, K. 426: Andante Domenico Scarlatti
  10. Sonata in c minor, K. 84 Domenico Scarlatti
  11. Sonata in f minor, K. 239: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti

Disc 2

  1. Sonata in F Major, K. 366: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  2. Sonata in B flat Major, K. 545: Prestissimo Domenico Scarlatti
  3. Sonata in G Major, K. 14: Presto Domenico Scarlatti
  4. Sonata in A Major, K. 209: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  5. Sonata in D Major, K. 492: Presto Domenico Scarlatti
  6. Sonata n E Major, K. 216: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  7. Sonata in D Major, K. 490: Cantabile Domenico Scarlatti
  8. Sonata in b minor, K. 87 Domenico Scarlatti
  9. Sonata in D Major, K. 119: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  10. Sonata in b minor, K. 27: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti
  11. Sonata in D Major, K. 96: Allegrissimo Domenico Scarlatti
  12. Sonata in D Major, K. 435: Allegro Domenico Scarlatti



Domenico Scarlatti

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families.

Where to buy

Scarlatti's Steinways at Melbourne is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Spotify and Apple Music.

Scarlatti's Steinways at Melbourne is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

List price
$25.00 AUD
Release date
October 2021
© 2021 Move Records
℗ 2021 Move Records
Catalogue number
MD 3458
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574345827