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Clementi: Piano Sonatas Vol.4 Import

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Audio CD, Import, October 13, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Howard Shelley's splendid series of Clementi's complete piano sonatas continues with a fourth volume containing some of the composer's most important works. The ten sonatas of Opp. 25, 26, and 33 heard here are all products of a period in Clementi's life when he was the darling of the London music scene. As well as stunning viruosity, the works recorded here contain a high degree of compositional originality and foward-looking piano writing. The A major sonata (No. 4) has a curiously nineteenth-century sound. The first movement displays a profusion of melodic ornamentation reminiscent of Chopin. The fifth, perhaps Clementi's greatest sonata, was much championed by Horowitz, among others.

Product Details

  • Performer: Shelley
  • Conductor: none
  • Composer: Clementi
  • Audio CD (October 13, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: HYPERION
  • ASIN: B002KUZBCK
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,708 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Dace Gisclard on October 14, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Volume Four of Howard Shelley's Clementi series would be a wise purchase for those who are curious to try a large sample of the best of the sonatas. Here we have eleven, mostly from Clementi's virtuoso career in London in the 1790's. Leon Plantinga, Clementi scholar and author of the album notes, believes that several are transcribed concertos (publishers found that sonatas sold better than concertos). At the very least, SIX of these works can be counted among the composer's finest, for both musical value and pianistic brilliance--Op.25 Nos.1, 4 and 5, and all three of Op.33. Lovers of Beethoven's early sonatas will be bowled over by the athletic grand manner of Op.25 No.1 and Op.33 No.3.

Op.25 is a set of great variety. No.1 is a swashbuckling virtuoso work with brilliant double thirds in both hands, double sixths with their finger-busting quotient boosted by melodic lines in the lower voice, and triple trills. If this wasn't enough to betray the origins of this work as a concerto, the first movement cadenza clinches it. Shelley tosses off its exhausting technical demands with jaw-dropping ease and clarity (as he does with everything else in this series), taking a real Presto for the finale.

Op.25 Nos.2 and 3 are conventional but appealing galant works meant for amateurs. If they say nothing new, they are as witty and engaging as Haydn's best sonatas.

The first movement of Op.25 No.4 is one of the composer's most startlingly forward-looking conceptions. It is florid and lyrical in a bel canto-ish way, and its highly chromatic melody and harmony presages Chopin and Herz. Its sensual savoring of beautiful sonority for its own sake anticipates Schubert. This is one of four sonatas in the present album that I have performed myself. Although I humbly defer to Mr.
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