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Clementi: Capriccios & Variations / Howard Shelley

Clementi / Shelley
Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67850   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CLEMENTI Capriccios and Variations Howard Shelley (pn) HYPERION CDA67850 (2 CDs:152:43)


Capriccios: in B?, op. 17; in A, op. 34/3; in f, op. 34/4; in e, op. 47/1; in C, op. 47/2. The Black Read more Joke, WoO 2. La chasse, op. 16. Monferrinas, op. 49. Fantasy and Variations on “Au clair de la lune,” op. 48. Variations on “Batti, batti,” WO 10. Variations on a Minuet by Mr. Collick, WO 5. Rondo in B?, WO 8. Musical Characteristics, op. 19


My colleague Peter J. Rabinowitz summed it up neatly in a review of Clementi piano sonatas in Fanfare 32:3: “Clementi does not have good press.” And a glance through various reviews of Clementi’s piano music in the Fanfare Archive proves that he is right. Praising with faint damns, our colleagues admit that there is “much to enjoy here,” that the music is “clever, fun, even thoughtful,” that it is “interesting, frequently dramatic, occasionally startling in its originality,” but also “numbing,” “lacking in depth,” “glib.” The criticism of “a lack of depth” appears several times. Jerry Dubins states, “Clementi was no Beethoven” (a rather silly statement, to which I can only reply, equally silly, “and Dubins is no George Bernard Shaw”). Further diminishing Clementi’s achievements, our reviewers find it necessary to refer to the same tired anecdote about the Mozart/Clementi rivalry, each criticizing the other’s playing, and dismissive references to the op. 36 sonatinas, which became standard pedagogical material for myriad piano students throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. (And why not? The C-Major Sonatina is a perfect teaching piece: a compendium of beginning piano technique, and a simple model of sonata form, in addition to being a delightful piece of music.)


There is some charming and attractive music, and a good deal of variety, among these smaller works, some of which are not so small. The two capriccios of op. 47 are quite substantial, akin to sonatas in their three-movement organization. Both have deeply expressive slow movements and brilliant fast movements. Of a different nature is the set of 12 Monferrinas— short, bouncy, light-hearted dances in 6/8 meter, native to the Italian state of Monferrato. In the two variation sets, Clementi demonstrates command of this genre in his imaginative use of variation technique. Dazzling technical writing requiring virtuoso technique is prevalent: runs in octaves and thirds, rapid repeated notes, brilliant figuration of all sorts.


Howard Shelley’s performances in this set are nothing short of remarkable. The brilliance of his musicianship encompasses all the technical demands—the repeated notes, feathery scales, light articulation, variety in dynamics and touch—but equally important, his stylish interpretations and deeply felt response to the expressive demands. There have been several dedicated Clementi pianists in recent years that have won high praise: Horowitz (who played such an important role in the Clementi revival in the 1950s), Maria Tipo, Susan Alexander-Max, Pietro Spada, Constantino Mastroprimiano to name a few. But Shelley, who has recorded the complete sonatas of Clementi on Hyperion, can claim pride of place.


The rich sound of the Steinway in this recording has been captured to perfection. Informative notes by Clementi scholar Leon Plantinga contribute to the excellence of the whole production.


FANFARE: Susan Kagan
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Works on This Recording

1.
Variations (5) on a Minuet by Mr. Collick, Wo 5 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
2.
The Black Joke with 21 variations in G major, Wo 2 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1777 
3.
Rondo for Keyboard in B flat major, Wo 8 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1802 
4.
Operatic Airs, WO 10: no 2, Batti, batti by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820; London, England 
5.
Musical Characteristics for Keyboard, Op. 19 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787/1807; London, England 
6.
Monferrinas (12) for Piano, Op. 49 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1821 
7.
La chasse, Op. 16 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1786 
8.
Fantaisie with Variations on 'Au clair de la lune' for Piano, Op. 48 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821; London, England 
9.
Capriccios (2) for Piano, Op. 47: no 2 in C major by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
10.
Capriccios (2) for Piano, Op. 47: no 1 in E minor by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1821; London, England 
11.
Progressive Sonatinas (6) for Piano, Op. 36: no 4 in F major by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
12.
Capriccio for Piano in A major, Op. 34 no 3 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1795 
13.
Capriccio for Keyboard in B flat major, Op. 17 by Muzio Clementi
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787/1807 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Blessing on my day May 24, 2012 By Anthony G. (valley stream, NY) See All My Reviews "I listen to this CD every morning while eating breakfast and doing my morning activities before work. I never grow tired of this music or this performance. Not to suggest this is light music, it is great music!" Report Abuse
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