Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
January 2016

It’s surprising—given that she often includes Scarlatti in her recitals—that this is Hewitt’s first album devoted to the prolific Neapolitan composer. He spent his last years in Portugal and Spain, writing at least 555 keyboard pieces for his royal pupil, the Portuguese Infanta, Maria Barbara, who became queen of Spain. Still widely regarded as a Bach specialist, Hewitt is a less flashy Scarlattian than many, but one who gets to the heart of his pathos and, above all, his sense of humour. She plays 16 pieces in groups of three or four (like classical multi-movement sonatas) with the E major work Kk380—the famous courtly march with “horn calls”—as an “encore”, one of her favourites in recital. Her dancing sense of rhythm and playfulness in the bravura Kk29 in D, or the “As fast as possible” G major, Kk427, is irresistible, as is her cantabile emulation of the greatest 18th-century singers in the aria-like slow sonatas. (We owe the survival of Scarlatti’s sonatas to the castrato Farinelli.) As in her admired Bach recordings, Hewitt’s crisp articulation conveys an impression of Scarlatti’s original harpsichord.