Clementi: Keyboard Sonata in D, Op. 25/6; Keyboard Sonata in A, Op. 33/1; Keyboard Sonata in A, Op. 50/1; Keyboard Sonata in G minor, Op. 50/3 (Didone abbandonata)

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COMPOSERS: Clementi
LABELS: CRD
WORKS: Keyboard Sonata in D, Op. 25/6; Keyboard Sonata in A, Op. 33/1; Keyboard Sonata in A, Op. 50/1; Keyboard Sonata in G minor, Op. 50/3 (Didone abbandonata)
PERFORMER: Martin Roscoe (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3500
These two discs are as chalk and cheese, even to the extent that they might contain the music of two completely different composers. It’s not just a matter of choice of instrument either – Andreas Staier plays a closely miked, sturdy sounding fortepiano (unidentified on my advance copy of the CD), conveying in vivid shades the Latinate side of a composer whose language bestrides the period between Mozartian galanterie and Lisztian panache, while Martin Roscoe rather caresses a modern concert grand and prefers understatement and a delicacy that his colleague plainly does not see (and may not be there). Staier begins with panache in the Preludio alla Haydn – gestural, fantastical, colourful, enormous music – summons a flavour of storm and stress in the F minor Sonata, Op. 13/6, and B flat major Capriccio, and unleashes a veritable torrent of fireworks in the opening movement of the G minor Sonata, Op. 34/2, whose finale begins with Mozartian anxiety. Indeed, here and in the F major Sonata, Op. 33/2, Staier rather overplays his hand, with lavish pedalling, and percussive power. But it’s an alluring approach, and the closing, brilliant Fantaisie on ‘Au clair de la lune’ is sheer delight, a foretaste of Liszt at his most brilliant. Roscoe, on the other hand, goes for refinement rather than fire, though not so much that a sonata like the D major, Op. 25/6, a work in Clementi’s galant mould, sounds merely pretty. There’s also a fine reading of the brilliant A major Sonata, Op. 33/1, and a deeply considered account of the magnificent, dark Chopinesque grandeur of the G minor Sonata, Didone abbandonata, Op. 50/3. Stephen Pettitt

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