WORKS: Piano Sonata in G minor, Op. 7/3; Piano Sonata in F minor, Op. 13/6; Piano Sonata in B flat, Op. 24/2; Piano Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 25/5; Piano Sonata in D, Op. 25/6
PERFORMER: Peter Katin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ATH CD4 DDD (distr. Complete Record Company)
Clementi was both a composer and a piano manufacturer, and this selection from his 70-odd sonatas is performed on a six-octave square piano made in 1832 by his own firm, Clementi and Company. For all his long experience, Peter Katin readily admits that he has only recently begun to explore keyboard instruments other than the modern piano and the harpsichord, but he clearly knows how to handle this instrument and to make the most of its relatively narrow dynamic range. He plays sensitively, with elegant phrasing and rubato, apt embellishments and subtle variations of tone colour. In the interests of historical accuracy the pitch is about a semitone lower than today, and some intermittent clicking from the instrument’s action lends the performances a not unattractive human immediacy. I have just one quibble. I wonder whether Katin has made the right decision in taking the Allegro con spirito of the G minor Sonata at quite such a measured pace. It certainly dilutes the storminess presumably intended.
But this really is a most desirable disc, and these five sonatas reveal unmistakably what an interesting composer Clementi can be. The booklet notes, by Katin and others, are readable and highly informative.