During his long life, Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) might have been the most famous composer of his era, had not Haydn and Beethoven been around. But this popularity rested solely on his precocious talent as a composer and performer of the piano and the vast majority of his works are sonatas for this instrument.
Many of these pieces reflect the diversity not only of the composer's career, but also of the many influences of greats such as Handel, Domenico Scarlatti and even Galuppi. Taken as a whole, these sonatas offer many moments of great reflective beauty and a certain joyous freshness that the test of time has certainly not erased.
This first Hyperion volume of a projected complete recording of all the sonatas is cause for celebration, and not only because it is laid out chronologically. Howard Shelley has a special feel for this music, and in his hands, these marvelous pieces are indeed revealed in all their translucent textures and melodic invention. The attractive price tag (two for the price of one) together with superb sound and authoritative annotations complete a fine first helping of what should be a resounding success all around.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech