Clementi: Keyboard Sonatas: Op. 7/3, Op. 13/6, Op. 24/2, Op. 25/5 & 6; Piano Sonatas Opp. 34, 41 & 50

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COMPOSERS: Clementi
LABELS: Diversions and Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Clementi: Sonatas
WORKS: Keyboard Sonatas: Op. 7/3, Op. 13/6, Op. 24/2, Op. 25/5 & 6; Piano Sonatas Opp. 34, 41 & 50
PERFORMER: Peter Katin (square piano) and Tanya Bannister (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 24113 (Reissue – 1995) and 8.557453
Clementi has suffered more than his fair share of detractors down the years, including Mozart who claimed: ‘[Clementi] has not the slightest expression or taste, still less feeling.’ Be that as it may, Beethoven’s early sonatinas and Op. 49 sonatas show clearly the influence of Clementi (and Dussek).

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This seems to be Peter Katin’s starting point. Far from being inhibited by his 1832 Clementi original, he exhilarates in the instrument’s expressive potential. Rarely have I heard an early piano played with such sensitivity to atmosphere and with such magical tonal variety. So exquisite is Katin’s phrasal intuitiveness, so inevitable

and supple his rubato that one

might forgiven for thinking he

had discovered some early Chopin (of whose music he is, of course, an exponent of the greatest distinction). While remaining true to music’s Classical roots, Katin ensures that its gentle, pre-Romantic musings gently ripple the music’s surface. He also makes a glorious sound, underpinned by a seamless cantabile that glows throughout like an iridescent pearl.

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Aged just 27 at the time of recording (2004), Tanya Bannister is at the other end of her career, yet she is clearly an artist to watch – and no wonder when she can count Claude Frank and Richard Goode as her main teachers. Her recital appears to have been chosen especially to emphasise Clementi’s impact on Beethoven – you can feel the latter’s Op. 2 waiting in the wings. Accordingly Bannister plays up the music’s dynamism and occasionally restless spirit – Barenboim’s EMI Beethoven sonata cycle is readily brought to mind. Yet although she possesses enviably articulate and accurate fingers, she is also sensitive to the music’s many lyrical asides. A most impressive Naxos debut. Julian Haylock