Clementi called the six Sonatinas, Op 36, published in 1797, ‘progressive’, and the not-very-advanced pupil for whom they are intended will encounter some gentle escalation of technical difficulty while moving through the series—short semiquaver (sixteenth-note) runs for the left hand appear as early as the second Sonatina. But throughout, the form and textures remain transparent, and the requisite keyboard facility modest. The first movement of the final D minor Sonatina, for example, features a fluid, mobile melodic figuration in the right hand with even triadic figuration below. Like Mozart, in his ‘little keyboard sonata for beginners’ as he called it (K545 in C major), Clementi can construct an attractive and effortlessly graceful movement from the most everyday materials: from diatonic scales, turns, arpeggios, Alberti-bass and repeated-note accompaniments. These Sonatinas, practised year in and year out by countless beginner pianists around the world, are by all odds Clementi’s best-known music. And surely it is a tribute to their quality and usefulness that after more than two centuries they still perform admirably the function for which their composer intended them.
from notes by Leon Plantinga © 2010