"The 24-year-old Gaudio’s playing is exciting and very clearly articulated, with a strong sense of forward propulsion. It is the approach of a young man, excited by the potential of the instrument and of the musical template and, as such, highly appropriate to this project. " Noel O’Regan - Early Music Review
On this recording harpsichordist Cristiano Gaudio gives us scores from the time of the famous duel between two young composers - both aged just twenty-four - that took place in Rome in 1709, George Frederic Handel and Domenico Scarlatti. History apparently records that Scarlatti emerged victorious on the harpsichord whereas Handel outdid him on the organ.
The duel between the two twenty-four year-old virtuosos George Frederic Handel and Domenico Scarlatti is a fascinating moment in the history of music, although we have only a fairly vague idea of what actually happened, as reality has got rather mixed up with legend. The duel was arranged in 1709, at the instigation of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, a great intellectual and patron of the arts as well as being a member of the Academy of Arcadia, who invited the two great virtuosos to show off their respective skills at the sumptuous Palazzo Corsini in Rome for the entertainment of a large audience drawn from the nobility.
Unfortunately, as things stand, we have no contemporary account of the facts, which means we have little option but to draw on indirect, subsequent sources, such as John Mainwaring's biography of Handel (Memoirs of the Life of the late George Frederic Handel, London, 1760) for a more accurate idea of what might have happened at this clash of the titans. Certainly, the fact that it was still being talked about more than fifty years after it took place clearly proves both how important an event this was and what a stir it created.
To us this is a fascinating duel which must have caused something of a sensation in its day. This was a clash between Domenico Scarlatti and Handel, two men with contrasting personalities in some respects and who were yet very similar in others, both of whom were to be crucial to the development of keyboard instruments and composition technique for years to come. They paved the way for contemporary composers and musicians and put on a once-in-a-lifetime show for the people who were fortunate enough to be there. Indeed, it is surprising to see how, even today, appreciation for these mainstays of Baroque music is still increasing, turning them into a timeless gold standard.