Notes and Editorial Reviews
In 1977 Leon B. Plantinga claimed that ‘almost anyone who has studied the piano in the Western world during the past half century knows one or more of the Sonatinas...’. This may be marginally less true now, but Clementi’s career as composer, publisher and entrepreneur within the nascent field of piano manufacture ensured his almost universal popularity to a degree denied to composers of arguably greater genius but more local flavour. The easy flow of his melodies and their supremely natural fit for their instrument, as well as Clementi’s encyclopaedic understanding of what this fortepiano and then pianoforte could do, and how players of whatever level ability could stretch and improve themselves upon it, means that his name as one of the
first significant composers for the piano, and not just for the keyboard, will live on.
One of the principal ‘domestic’ genres that Clementi cultivated at the apex of its marketability between the 1780s and early 1800s was the accompanied sonata, the ‘mainstay of the drawing-room and a stable of publishers’ catalogues into the early 19th century’ (Dorothy de Val), and that is what we find on CD3 of this collection with the Op.4 sonatas, originally conceived as having an accompaniment for violin or flute but here presented as piano solos. The Op.3 sonatas are genuine duets, and they stand somewhere in sophistication between the Sonatinas and accompanied sonatas and Clementi’s larger-scale works.
The two Italian musicians on this album formed a long-established duet partnership, throughout the middle years of the last century, that performed and recorded all the great works of the genre, from Clementi to Busoni and Shostakovich. Read less
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