About this work
Prominent Scarlatti scholars include Ralph Kirkpatrick and Alessandro Longo, who formulated the two most commonly used catalogs of the composer's keyboard sonatas. A lesser-known figure, Sacheverell Sitwell, classified the sonatas according to certain stylisiric characteristics, dividing them into martial works, dances, and Spanish sonatas, the latter by far the largest category. This Sonata in F minor is listed in the last-named group, and with good reason. While it lacks obviously Spanish traits, this work has an Iberian nocturnal character in its lovely melodic flow. But it is more than merely Spanish or nocturnal. Marked Andante moderato, the work opens with a melancholy theme of passionate character, anticipating, one is tempted to say, the passionate expressiveness of the Romantic period. The melody is imaginatively constructed, consisting of repeating six-note phrases that generate offshoots and other thematic workings. It can even be heard as a precursor to the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata in its evolving and repetitive material, and in its dark, nocturnal mood. Listeners will agree that this sonata is haunting and beautiful throughout its approximately five-minute duration.