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