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Hyperion Records

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The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765)
Musée d'Art Thomas Henry, Cherbourg, France / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67819
Recording details: December 2009
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Annabel Connellan
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: October 2010
Total duration: 24 minutes 52 seconds

'This must be one of the most handsome of all recent homages to a lesser-known composer, with nothing about the performances, recording quality or presentation falling short of first-class … Shelley is a perfect advocate for this music, the limpidness of his playing being allied to utter sensitivity of dynamic and phrasing … a heartening achievement on all counts' (Gramophone)

'Each volume has shown remarkable variety from Clementi's fervid imagination … for all the temptation to compare Clementi with his more familiar contemporaries, a clear and distinctive voice appears through this overview of the complete sonatas. Shelley's technical security allows him to project a sense of ease and spontaneity … the complete set proves a benchmark which I doubt will be moved for a very long time' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This is a most attractive and sparkling account on Clement's final sonatas and brings to a satisfying conclusion Howard Shelley's survey of Clementi … the sound captured on the recording more than lives up to expectations' (International Record Review)

Piano Sonata in G major, Op 40 No 1
published by Longman, Clementi & Co in September 1802

Allegro  [6'17]
Finale: Presto  [5'12]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In 1802, as the peace of Amiens offered a temporary respite from the ravages of the Napoleonic wars, Clementi, together with his tractable young Irish student John Field, set off on an eight-year tour of the European Continent. This time the conquests he sought had to do less with concerts than with commerce, with selling his company’s pianos and procuring new music for publication. But before setting off, Clementi made arrangements for his own firm’s publication of his three sonatas which appeared in September 1802 as ‘Opus 40, Book I’. This is the first of Clementi’s music to appear after 1800, and it seems quite at home in the new century. These sonatas are technically demanding, rather experimental in form, and of large dimensions, intended, it seems, for professional pianists or for advanced students like Field—but apparently not for Clementi’s own performances, for by this time he had essentially ceased playing in public.

The opening Sonata in G major is Clementi’s only sonata with four truly independent movements. But instead of a minuet or scherzo, for the third movement he presents a group of severe two-voice canons, abounding with the austere, often astringent sounds that come with his thin-textured imitative writing. The remaining movements of this first sonata are big-limbed structures with a good deal of leisurely ornament. The first shows the many internal cadences and two-handed figuration that suggest a missing orchestra and a possible origin as a concerto movement. The second is a luxuriantly ornate Adagio, sostenuto e cantabile in the distant key of E major; its irregular, sweeping figurations of as many as twenty notes to the rhythmic unit prefigure the piano sounds heard in Paris salons three decades later, as, for example, in Chopin’s Nocturne in F sharp major, Op 15 No 2.

from notes by Leon Plantinga © 2010

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