One of the most important composers of his day, Carl Czerny (1791-1857) is today almost forgotten. His repertoire is gigantic and varied, but the piano was the love of his life, and most of his compositions were written for this instrument. Virtuosic in style and rich in melody, most of these pieces were modeled on those of Beethoven, of whom Czerny was pupil, friend and protégé. Indeed, at Beethoven's funeral he was one of the torchbearers. Like his contemporaries, notably Ferdinand Ries and Ignaz Moscheles, both notable composers and piano teachers, Czerny was one of those who carried the flame of the late-classical style into the early Romantic era, and made a distinctive contribution through his own creative genius. He wrote well over 1,000 works, but since his death much of this music has remained buried and unknown.
Closer scrutiny is revealing that there is much in this output that is worth unearthing, and as a virtuoso pianist, his most substantial pieces in the genre, such as the sonatas, give him a most deserved claim to fame. The programme on this third volume of Nimbus's ongoing and invaluable series dedicated to the composer's piano sonatas, groups together three mammoth such works full of dramatic intensity and emotional excitement.
Heroic in scope and structure, the music is driven relentlessly towards vertiginous heights and Czerny's ability to continually create surprises is another reason why I have become such an ardent admirer of this composer. The album also incorporates 6 other short miniatures that display Czerny's fertile imagination to write colourfully happy pieces that do not lack technical challenges. Philip Martin has this music under his skin and his deft light-fingered dispatch of every presentable demand is wholly impressive. This music is exhilarating throughout.
Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech