Second only to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, the keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, alongside works of George Frideric Handel, François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau, formed the core repertory of the 20th-century revival of the harpsichord.1 Sizeable groups of Scarlatti sonatas were recorded on the harpsichord by such first- and second-generation pioneers of historically informed performance as Wanda Landowska, Yella Pessl and Ralph Kirkpatrick. Thus, there is a certain irony that much of the discussion in recent decades about which instruments are historically appropriate for the performance of Scarlatti’s keyboard music has centred around the proposition that this composer was ‘the piano’s first great advocate’.2 More than is usual in musicology, this assertion, passionately articulated by David Sutherland in an article published in this journal in 1995,...

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