About this work
Published in London in 1738 as one of Scarlatti's Essercizi per gravicembalo, this Sonata in D minor may well date back a decade or two before that year. It was one of 30 sonatas by the composer to appear in that volume, the first publication ever to feature Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas. Marked allegro moderato, it is paced much more slowly than that tempo indication would normally suggest. Its "Pastorale" nickname is well chosen: this Sonata is a light, lyrical work whose occasional playful qualities blend well with the overall sense of serenity and bucolic charm of the music.
It opens with a somewhat wistful theme whose mixture of elegance and gentle playfulness give it a dreamy sense, a feeling the notes are floating amid the few clouds in a sunny, warm sky. While it has a pastoral character, its graceful manner and stately charm suggest a regal presence, as if the Court has gone on holiday in the country. In the second half of the work, Scarlatti develops the expository material, maintaining much the same mood but darkening the main theme a bit. This four-minute gem has a mesmerizing quality to its beauty and serenity.