Horowitz Plays Clementi
Rca Victor Gold Seal
Number of Discs:
Mono & Stereo
1 Hours 13 Mins.
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
One of Horowitz's most interesting discs - these sonatas form a link between C.P.E. Bach, the Sturm und Drang of Haydn, and Beethoven's dramatic style.
"A mere mechanician, strong in runs of thirds, but without a pennyworth of feeling or taste". Mozart's extremely harsh judgement on the playing of Clementi, against whom the Emperor Leopold II pitted him in a famous keyboard duel, plus recollections of his purely educational music, has resulted in an almost total shunning of his 64 piano sonatas. But Beethoven, who possessed a large number of them, esteemed them very highly; and to anyone not already knowing them the three remarkable works on this disc will certainly come as a shock. AP was absolutely right in
suspecting that Clementi was "one of the greatest of neglected masters".
The present three sonatas, dating from between 1784 and 1788, form as it were a link between C. P. E. Bach (whose wildness they share, as witness all the finales), the Sturm und Drang of Haydn, and Beethoven's dramatic style. The first movement in each case is striking—ominous in the F 'minor, movingly expressive in the F sharp minor, while the G minor has a highly dramatic short Largo leading to a fiery Allegro in the middle of which there is, after an abrupt key-jolt, a recollection in tranquillity of the opening. I recommend also the lovely Lento of the F sharp minor.
Horowitz plays these with great tonal sensitivity and great rhythmic vitality; and though the sound is a trifle harsh in forte and a bit boxy in general, the 1955 recording stands up well. This was always one of Horowitz's most interesting discs, and it should not be missed by those who do not already have it.
-- Gramophone [9/1974, reviewing Op. 32 no 2, Op. 14 no 3, and Op. 26 no 2 on LP]
Works on This Recording
II. Adagio e cantabile, con espressione
I. Largo; Allegro con fuoco
I. Piuttosto allegro con espressione
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Fresh Classics, Freshly Played December 16, 2011
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews
"Vladimir Horowitz was a tremendously influential musician. His championing of the music of Scarlatti and Scriabin led other pianists to examine that repertoire. Yet despite 30 years of efforts on his part, there was never a Clementi revival during his lifetime.
His efforts began before his retirement in 1953. Shortly after World War II, his wife, Wanda visited a used bookstore in Milan and found a complete original edition of Clementi's piano Sonatas. Horowitz immediately realized these works were pianistically far ahead of their time, noting several passages which were prescient of Beethoven's from decades later. By 1949, he was programming isolated sonata movements. In 1950, he recorded the Rondo from the Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 24, No. 2, in a witty, flexible performance.
Horowitz's most significant contribution to the Clementi discography is the LP dedicated to the composer, which was recorded in 1954. Perhaps wanting to underscore Clementi's "seriousness" as a composer, Horowitz chose minor key Sonatas, including the F-sharp Minor, Op. 25, No. 5 (said to be Beethoven's favorite). It's easy to see why this work would become a Horowitz favorite as well (he performed it publicly in 1974, 1975, and 1982): the lyrical, longing motifs of the first movement are followed by a desolate middle movement, which contrasts with the double-third virtuosity of the finale. There are some arresting moments as well in the G Minor Sonata, which begins with a slow, solemn theme which, after an urgent Allegro, returns, ala Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata. The F Minor Sonata is given a stark rendering which reflects the terseness of the piece.
Horowitz performed the Sonata (quasi Concerto) in C Major numerous times between 1976 and 1980. The recording on this CD is taken from rehearsals and performances in Chicago and Washington, DC in April of 1979. Horowitz plays this on a larger scale than the other Sonatas, doubtless to emphasize the work's Concerto aspects. The first movement goes with a great deal of pomp and circumstance. For the second movement, a songful Adagio, Horowitz composed his own cadenza -- which is a bit more advanced tonally than what was heard in Clementi's time (at one point, Horowitz uses a whole tone row). The final movement is played as an outright virtuoso piece, with some left hand accents that would have likely smashed the pianos of Clementi's time.
This CD gathers all of Horowitz's Clementi recordings released during his lifetime (isolated sonata movements were recorded for Columbia in 1963 and 1972, but not released until three years after the pianist's death). The recorded sound varies. The Rondo from 1950 is in acceptable mono. The 1954 items, recorded in the living room of Horowitz's townhouse, fare worst, with a rather constricted, clattery sound. The 1979 Sonata has the up-close sound Horowitz was getting from RCA during that time, but remastering has made it acceptable. "