Clementi’s final two Capriccios
Op 47 are clearly ‘professional’ music: ambitious, dramatic, radically experimental, often determinedly chromatic, they show the septuagenarian composer still at work in the forefront of the most modern keyboard style. Each of the two Capriccios
(in E minor and C major) consists of two fast movements, in every case preceded by a sizable Adagio introduction. These Adagios, with their elaborate melodic ornament and luxuriant chromaticism, at points may remind us of piano music from a dozen years later: Chopin, perhaps, or the young Liszt. The first Adagio of the C major Capriccio
has a 5/4 time signature—perhaps the first occurrence of such a radically experimental metrical arrangement. The initial fast movements in each Capriccio
are both of the appassionato type, with dramatic, agitated themes, and laden with chromatic motion and enharmonic shifts. The two finales are rather different: their largely straightforward construction and diatonic harmonies have a retrospective air, as if Clementi were for a moment indulging in a backward glance at his own musical past.
from notes by Leon Plantinga © 2011