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Saturday Sonata

D. Scarlatti — Sonata in E Major, L. 23.

I write furtively from Wheelock Street in Hanover, where a cobalt tarp is being hoisted upon piers on the lawn of Alpha Delta in preparation for what is certain to be a loud concert. The firing of the stacks of JBL cabinets is, I sense, nigh.

Quickly, then: here on a wondrous Saturday is Vladimir Horowitz, playing Scarlatti’s L. 23, the sonata in E. This concert happened in the spring of 1986, in Moscow; it was Horowitz’s storied return to Russia. Fissures of secret hopefulness creep within the dark dressed audience, you will see. The Scarlatti works—two were played—strike me as being not only meticulously played, but ingenious in their selection. Scarlatti? Tinkling unharrassed in the Soviet den? It is the cipher of the free world, E major, democracy’s impenetrable cant.

Mr. Horowitz, who abhorred a spectacle—least of all one of his own creation—and had occasionally need to be shoved from the wings to center stage, gave an encore that evening: it was Traumerei, of course, by Schumann; and it shook the whole room. The man was playing the Soviet empire off the stage, gently, and the concertgoers knew it. Please find that performance below.


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