Czerny: Piano Sonatas Vol. 3

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COMPOSERS: Czerny
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Vol. 3: Sonatas Nos 3, 4 & 10; Rondino in E flat, Op. 42; Sonatine in G, Op. 251; Gran Capriccio in C minor, Op. 172; Romance, Op. 775 No. 13 etc
PERFORMER: Martin Jones (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Nimbus NI 5872/3

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You’ve got to hand it to Czerny: he certainly was no slouch – the Romance recorded here is listed as Op. 755 No. 13. And if, like me, you thought his vast output consisted of little more than pedagogical sonatinas for piano, and keyboard exercises, Martin Jones’s series of the large-scale Sonatas may offer some surprises. Czerny was Beethoven’s most celebrated pupil, and perhaps it’s not by chance that his Sonata in F minor shares its opus number with Beethoven’s Appassionata, in the same key.

The middle section of Czerny’s opening movement is intense, and harmonically quite adventurous, but elsewhere in the piece the musical invention is rather undistinguished. More memorable are the calm, almost Schubertian trio section of the third movement, and the stern opening bars of the finale. The G major Sonata No. 4 and the B flat No. 10 contain the best and worst of Czerny, too: both have a really fine slow movement in a proto-Chopinesque style; but then he throws everything out of the window by casting the finale as a simplistic – but far from simple – piece of salon music.

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For the rest, this pair of CDs includes a neo-Bachian Capriccio à la Fuga, a Rondino of some charm, and Gran Capriccio in C minor. Hats off to Martin Jones, who copes valiantly with a veritable torrent of notes, and whose innate musicianship makes us forget as often as is humanly possible that this was the composer of the School of Velocity (Op. 636). Misha Donat