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I'm working on Scarlatti's K208.

The Dover edition includes variants from the Codice Veneziano (C.V.), Codice Santini (C.S.) and from the London original edition (E.O.). The first picture shows a sample variation for this piece, and the second picture is taken from the "Notes" section in the front of the book, and provides background into the variations.

scarlatti k208 cv

dover note

  • Should I be consistent in my choice of variants - that is, if I use one C.V. should I also use all others?
  • Is there anything else helpful to know about this?
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    OK, so the point is that this is a certain published edition of a very old composition, and the editor of this edition has chosen to include notes about how different historical editions of this piece of music, over the centuries, contained alternate notes in different passages. You, the performer, have to decide which way you want to play it when there are alternatives presented. Have I got that right? – user1044 Apr 4 '15 at 2:33
  • As I suspected, Longo. He is known (notorious?) for edits and embellishments. – Mark C Jan 14 '18 at 21:37
  • The Heugel scholarly editions are super clean, I see that's what the top answer refers to by Gilbert. You could look at (on YT) or listen to (Amazon, Spotify, etc.) various professional and serious "amateur" performances of it, e.g. by Aline D'Ambricourt, Arodaky, and various guitarists). It looks like the organist G. van Reenen uses the Heugel editions, too: youtube.com/watch?v=rsSjp_eUdtw Also, isn't a lovely, delicate piece? – Mark C Jan 14 '18 at 21:44
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I'd go with the Venice archive variants, but then, I probably wouldn't go with Longo's edition - he had some tendency to "correct" things.

Kenneth Gilbert's Urtext edition (Volume 5 here) goes entirely with Venice. I don't know if K. 208 is to be found in the Münster (Santini) or Parma archives as well (can't find indexes), but then, we lack anything directly from Scarlatti himself, so, even if it is in them and the music varies, there is no real way to sort out the variants for priority.

However... If you have a look at Gilbert's Urtext and compare it with Longo's edition (say, the cadence at the end of the first half), you'll see just how much Longo "smooths out" Scarlatti's irregularities. This is not necessarily a good thing...

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I am by no means a Scarlatti expert, and have no specific knowledge of this piece, but in general:

  1. It depends on your audience. If this is something formal (like an audition), you'll want to find out if they have a preference as to source material. If you're playing it for your own benefit, or your friends, or even a college recital, go with your ear. Just play what sounds best in your rendition of the piece - even choosing parts from different editions. Most average listeners won't know Scarlatti from Mozart, much less which edition you're using. You will probably be the expert on this piece in most contexts, and it's likely that your style will favor one edition or another.

  2. If you decide it matters to you or your audience, do some reading on those editions (especially in scholarly/thesis work) and see what reading the body of experts favors. In a Dover Beethoven edition I have, it discusses some of the sources in the preface.

  3. Realize that all of these editions are good, and have been performed, quite possibly by the composer or his students. If the editor is reputable, he probably chose what he considered the best as the primary version, but thought the others were meritorious enough to be included.

For preliminary research, I like to use things like Google Scholar and Google Books, both of which have promising search results.

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    And as my teacher always said, "He's dead. How do YOU want to play it?" While that seems flippant and trite, music is by no means set in stone when it's notated - you're the one bringing it to life. – Josiah Apr 4 '15 at 0:21
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    And with music from Scarlatti's time, you were expected to improvise a bit when you performed a written piece. Although, today, the questions of how to improvise and how much are the subjects of endless debate. – user1044 Apr 4 '15 at 10:33
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The are two basic types of editions; performing editions where the editor tells you how he/she thinks the piece should go, and urtext editions which tell you what the composer wrote, or show you all the alternatives if that is not known exactly.

Longo is unashamedly a performing edition in the style of piano-playing 100 years ago, and almost every note of every sonata has performance markings added by the editor. It is important because it was the first "complete" modern edition of Scarlatti, but as a source of what Scarlatti actually wrote it is worthless.

The Venice manuscripts have been digitized. There doesn't seem to be an English language version of the website - click on "vedi" to view the items) http://www.internetculturale.it/opencms/opencms/it/ricerca_metamag.jsp?semplice.y=0&semplice.x=0&q=scarlatti&instance=mag. Unlike many manuscripts of the period, they are quite easy for non-musicologists to read.

Or, get the Gilbert/Heugel edition. Note that the link on IMSLP (given in another answer) is only out-of-copyright in the EU and Canada, and the copyright-protected-everywhere editorial notes (possibly the most valuable part to answer the OP's question) are not included in it.

  • +1 for the nice explanation of types of editions, and for linking to the source. Actually, given that Gilbert didn't add any ossia passages referencing Parma or Münster, I presume that K.208 isn't in the overlap between the various manuscripts (i.e., exists just in the Venice archive), or has the same Notenbild throughout, but as even Urtext editors can make decisions on what to include, I'm hesitant to insist on that. – user16935 Apr 5 '15 at 13:41

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