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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Muzio Clementi, Keyboard Sonatas, Sandro De Palma

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) may not be remembered with the full spotlight like Mozart or Beethoven, yet he certainly deserves the attention he is getting more of these days. We have another volume of his Keyboard Sonatas (Naxos 8.573880), this time under the very capable piano auspices of Sandro De Palma. This volume is as entrancing as any of them with a nicely chosen divide between the elemental twinkle-twinkle sing-songy earlier works--Op. 1, No. 3 (1771) and Op. 8, No. 2 (1784)--and the near-Romantic poetically gravitas later period--Op. 50, No. 3 "Didone abbandonata" (1821) and Op. 50 No. 2 (1821).

The sweep of inventive pianism is increasingly engaging as one listens over time. There is music box simplicity contrasted by deeper darker mystery in the later works. The symphonies turned out to be some substantial fare on the MHS double record that came out years ago. Perhaps we can hear new versions of them. And Naxos (see previous posting) is doing a bit of the chamber music too. Perhaps the piano music is the most charming and flowing of all his music and this volume gives us a sample that need not fill 50 CDs to make its statement, though if Naxos gets all of the sonatas done it will fill more than a few at any rate.

Sandro De Palma plays the sonatas with a bravura and an alternating tenderness that helps us along considerably in assessing and smiling over what there is to hear on these four gemful essays and our subsequent assays. It is a happy meeting of composer and performer and we the listeners most surely are the benefactors. Clementi is never out of ideas and the musical ideation is on a high level no matter how basic or involved the inventions.

I must recommend this strongly. It is something to bring you a little joy I would hope. I am smiling myself as I listen again.

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