Clementi Piano Sonatas Vol 4

How does Clementi fare in the period of late Haydn and early Beethoven?

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Muzio Clementi

Genre:

Instrumental

Label: Hyperion

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 0

Mastering:

Stereo
DDD

Catalogue Number: CDA 67738

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
(6) Keyboard Sonatas Muzio Clementi, Composer
Howard Shelley, Piano
Muzio Clementi, Composer
Keyboard Sonata Muzio Clementi, Composer
Howard Shelley, Piano
Muzio Clementi, Composer
(3) Keyboard Sonatas Muzio Clementi, Composer
Howard Shelley, Piano
Muzio Clementi, Composer
With these two discs Howard Shelley’s cycle of Clementi piano sonatas moves into the 1790s, the decade when Haydn was rediscovering the instrument (thanks indeed to Clementi and his fellow London-based pianists) and when Beethoven was about to burst on the scene as a powerful and compelling new virtuoso. Clementi certainly merits mention in this company; many of the sonatas here have a Haydnesque flavour, and there are frequent foretastes of the kind of technical brilliance Beethoven would soon show off in his early sonatas; it is not hard to recognise hints of the kind of piano-writing familiar from the Pathétique in the first movement of Op 33 No 2, or the bullishness of Beethoven’s Op 2 No 3 in the finale of Clementi’s Op 33 No 3. Fascinatingly, too, there are textures that appear to look further ahead still: to Mendelssohn in the wind-born double-thirds of the finale of Op 25 No 5, and even to Field and Chopin in the bel canto tracery of the first movement of Op 25 No 4.

Clementi never reaches the emotional depths of these men, of course, and there are undoubtedly moments (in Op 25 especially) when pianistic business seems to edge out musical substance. Yet there is beauty and refinement in the slow movements of Op 33 No 3 and Op 41, and a noble minor-key melodic eloquence to Op 25 No 5. And if Clementi finds his finer inspiration only fitfully, the same certainly cannot be said of Shelley, who adds to unfailing textural clarity, sensitivity of phrasing and fine touch a willingness to seek out what is meaningful in this music and realise it to a degree that might have surprised even its composer.

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