The biography of Igor Kamenz, one that virtually cries out to be filmed, is the story of a man for whom only music has ever counted. As a child prodigy, he gave widely admired piano recitals in the Soviet Union and conducted major orchestras at an early age. After his emigration to Germany in 1978, he maintained a career as a concert pianist. In 2013, by an almost incredible combination of circumstances, a CD featuring his playing came into the hands of a major management company and of Naïve, who were immediately captivated by his talent and his musical personality: it was the start of a new chapter . . . Domenico Scarlatti, born in Naples in 1685, the same year as Bach and Handel, son of the celebrated opera composer Alessandro Scarlatti, a universe unique in musical history, the 555 harpsichord sonatas that have come down to us only in copy. In their variety, their inventiveness, their harmonic and timbral audacity, their vivacity, their impulsiveness, their fruitful tension between vibrant Mediterranean joie de vivre and sombre melancholy, they form miniature psychological studies that look forward far into the Romantic era, indeed the twentieth century. Igor Kamenz has assembled the sonatas played here on a modern concert grand into what he calls a suite in eighteen movements, whose ordering follows criteria related to the dramaturgy, key and content of the pieces. Detailed track-list includes: Sonata in D major, K96, allegrissimo Sonata in E major, K381, allegro Sonata in D major, K119, allegro Sonata in B minor, K197, andante Sonata in E major, K135, allegro Sonata in A major, K322, allegro Sonata in A minor, K109, adagio Sonata in D minor, K141, allegro Sonata in D major, K492, presto Sonata in G major, K146, [no indication] Sonata in C minor, K11, allegro Sonata in F major, K17, presto Sonata in B minor, K27, allegro Sonata in B minor, K87, [no indication] Sonata in E major, K380, andante commodo Sonata in A major, K209, allegro Sonata in A major, K101, allegro Sonata in D major, K29, presto.
The career of Russian-born, Germany-based pianist Igor Kamenz gives meaning to the phrase slow burn. Born in 1968, he was giving recitals and conducting orchestras in his native Siberia by the age of seven. In the 1980s and 90s he entered numerous international competitions but he never quite broke through. Despite setbacks, he kept his head above water. This past week, Kamenz made his New York debut playing Beethoven and Liszt in recitals at the Mostly Mozart Festival. September 30, Naïve label will release his recordings of 18 of Domenico Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas played on piano. The cover photo notwithstanding, the sonatas on this album (recorded at SUNY Purchase) are not sleepy affairs, mostly allegros with lots of flourishes and brilliant dance rhythms. Kamenz plays with a full tone, lively phrasing and a nicely varied touch. --WQXR Album of the Week, August 25, 2014
The tart, athletic, Baroque sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti occupy a special place in the piano pantheon. They are full of good-natured gymnastics. And at the same time, Scarlatti had a melodic flair and he can be ingenious in his simplicity. The sonatas grab your attention.
Kamenz has a fine technique for this music. His crisp trills and clear staccato repeated notes are a pleasure. He plays unapologetically on a modern piano and he's not afraid to use it. Fortes are loud, and there's a touch of pedal, and rhythms aren't straight-jacketed. In other words, he approaches the sonatas in many ways as if they are newer than they are. The music has a nice bounce. It's a matter of taste but I prefer this approach to fussy period-instrument performance. --Buffalo News