Clementi: Piano Sonatas, Op. 40

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COMPOSERS: Clementi
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Sonatas, Op. 40
PERFORMER: Pietro De Maria (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553500
Clementi’s long life spanned those of both Mozart and Beethoven, and De Maria places the accent on his Classical side, while Tipo locates him firmly at the beginning of the 19th century. Even though she’s more drily recorded, and has a slightly less well regulated piano, she finds more warmth in the music. Partly it’s a matter of a natural rubato which comes from inside the music: at the beginning of the first Op. 40 Sonata, De Maria sets off on a brisk, no-nonsense walk through the musical landscape, while Tipo’s moulding of the phrases tells us that there will be time for things worth looking at along the way. And in the slow movement, Tipo caresses the falling figure which appears near the opening: for De Maria, it’s just two descending notes. It’s the same in the other Op. 40 Sonatas, all of which contain weighty slow movements which Tipo treats with gravity, and De Maria just plays cleanly and well, though he does score with the fleetness of his prestos. In the Op. 50 Sonatas, Tipo receives less good recording, and there are a few dodgy edits, but, even though Clementi isn’t quite Beethoven, the performances make you understand why Beethoven admired him. Martin Cotton

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