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Hyperion Records

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Roman Capriccio by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765)
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67814
Recording details: October 2009
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Annabel Connellan
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: May 2010
Total duration: 21 minutes 57 seconds

'Volume 5 of Howard Shelley's exemplary survey brings us sonatas from the late 1790s … several of the works in Vol 4 had a Haydnesque feel but here there seems to be a more personal style on show, busy with up-to-date, complex keyboard figuration yet also displaying natural shapeliness, as well as some moments of memorable individuality … clearly played, intelligently detailed and perfectly recorded' (Gramophone)

'Shelley's playing is exemplary, with a gloriously fluent technique and a most perceptive interpretational approach … the Six Sonatinas here prove particularly nostalgic, core repertoire from many a pianist's childhood and perfect miniature paradigms of classical sonata form … Shelley is creating a benchmark for Clementi's solo piano music which I doubt will be moved in the foreseeable future and this volume's two-discs-for-the-price-of-one is an irresistible offering' (BBC Music Magazine)

'You won't often hear [the Op 36 Sonatinas] played as skilfully as here … along with his best-known works, the 12 on this set include some of Clementi's best, the two sonatas of his Op 34, pieces that attracted the attention of pianists of the calibre of Horowitz and Gilels before the clear and disciplined Shelley. Prepare to be surprised by the strength of musical argument' (The Irish Times)

Piano Sonata in G minor, Op 34 No 2
published in 1795

Un poco adagio  [7'01]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The G minor Sonata Op 34 No 2 stands out as one of Clementi’s finest. Often at his best when working in minor keys, he unites in this work seemingly unrelated stylistic fashions into a seamless whole of great expressive power. The Largo e sostenuto opening, with its distinctive three-stroke theme, becomes an abrasively dissonant chromatic fugato whose subject is transformed into the first material of the following Allegro con fuoco. The return of the Largo at the entry of the recapitulation—anticipating Beethoven’s similar stratagem in his sonatas Op 13 (‘Pathétique’) and Op 31 No 2 (‘Tempest’)—confirms its status as something more integral than the ordinary slow introduction. Throughout this urgent, rushing movement informal contrapuntal writing first heard in that Largo mingles with idiomatic and thoroughly modern keyboard figurations. The second movement enters as a gentle barcarolle melody accompanied by an innocent dotted-note irritant that later becomes a distinctly un-gentle secondary theme. The sonata ends with a driving, tight-knit ‘sonata-allegro’ movement that affirms the overall serious—if not desperate—tone of this work. Informal polyphonic writing at the outset recalls the texture of the first movement, and with the arrival of the second theme we hear a specific reference back to the three-stroke figure that began the opening Largo. This remarkable work, published in 1795, easily bears comparison with Beethoven’s ‘debut’ Sonatas Op 2, published the same year.

from notes by Leon Plantinga © 2010

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