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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: 25 minutes 35 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 minor 'Didone abbandonata', Op 50 No 3
published in 1821, but probably composed twenty or so years earlier; dedicated to Luigi Cherubini

Adagio dolente  [5'57]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Best known of the sonatas of Op 50 is the last one, subtitled ‘Didone abbandonata’, the only one of his instrumental compositions to which Clementi applied a programmatic title; this may well be a reference to Metastasio’s libretto of that name, set by a number of eighteenth-century composers. The Largo patetico e sostenuto introduction (equipped with the further subtitle, ‘scena tragica’), built mainly upon a simple descending stepwise figure, has a thick chordal texture that echoes the typical piano sound of the 1820s. This stands in stark contrast to the following Allegro ma con espressione, the transparency of whose main theme recalls Clementi’s two earlier sonatas in G minor, Op 7 No 3 and Op 34 No 2. The second movement, a rhapsodic, harmonically digressive Adagio dolente, leads directly into the final Allegro agitato, e con disperazione, the strongest movement of the piece. Clementi’s trademark is firmly stamped upon its opening theme: a falling melodic line with a dactylic rhythm that places a long note (and usually a strong dissonance) at the beginning of each bar. Much of this movement has a uni-directional quality resulting from a homogeneity of rhythmic motion and the repeated cadence patterns that had been a time-honored trait of Italian keyboard music since the days of Domenico Scarlatti. Clementi’s last sonata is of its own time, but also an affirmation of stylistic and expressive aims that he had embraced for his entire career.

from notes by Leon Plantinga © 2010

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