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Track(s) taken from CDA67850

The Black Joke with 21 Variations, WO2

published in 1777

Howard Shelley (piano)
Recording details: October 2010
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Annabel Connellan
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: September 2011
Total duration: 13 minutes 42 seconds

Cover artwork: Classical Scene by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765)
Roy Miles Gallery, 29 Bruton Steet, London W1 / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'This enticing seventh (and final) volume of Clementi's works for solo piano is a notable achievement on several levels. The same team … have combined to produce no fewer than 14 CDs of remarkably uniform quality, insight and interest in a mere 4 years … there are over 152 minutes of music on the present discs, much of it demanding. How Shelley manages to absorb it all and then convince you that he has been playing it all his life with his characteristic elegance and dexterity is a gift given to few. Such an eminent composer deserves no less' (Gramophone)
In 1777 Clementi's first London publication appeared: ‘The Black Joke, with 21 Variations … composed by Sigr. M. C.’. It is hard to imagine why Clementi should have wished to remain semi-anonymous, for these variations certainly include some of his most attractive music to date. The ‘Black Joke’ is a jig-like Irish folk tune which Clementi presents with a stark single-line accompaniment featuring bits of a tonic pedal-point suggestive of a drone. The variations that follow amount to a kind of anthology of keyboard figurations, some of which—like the fast runs in octaves in variations 10 and 20—were later to make Clementi famous. Patterns of repetition among the minor-key variations (14–15–14, 16–17–16) lend these groupings a certain autonomy as miniature ternary shapes. The final variation is a virtuoso tour de force, with octave figurations in both hands enlivened with poignant chromatic inflections.

from notes by Leon Plantinga © 2011

1777 voit la première publication de ses années londoniennes: «The Black Joke, with 21 Variations … composed by Sigr. M.C.». On conçoit mal pourquoi Clementi souhaita préserver un semi-anonymat, ces variations renfermant assurément certaines des plus attrayantes musiques qu’il eut alors composées. «Black Joke» est un air traditionnel irlandais, façon gigue, dont l’accompagnement austère comporte ici des morceaux de pédale de tonique suggérant un bourdon. Les variations suivantes forment une sorte d’anthologie des figurations claviéristiques, dont quelques-unes—ainsi les passages rapides, en octaves, des variations 10 et 20—feront la célébrité de Clementi. Des schémas de répétition font des variations en mineur (14–15–14, 16–17–16) des formes ternaires en miniature relativement autonomes. La dernière variation est un tour de force virtuose avec des figurations en octaves, aux deux mains, égayées de poignantes inflexions chromatiques.

extrait des notes rédigées par Leon Plantinga © 2011
Français: Hypérion

Im Jahr 1777 erschien Clementis erste Publikation der Londoner Jahre: „The Black Joke, with 21 Variations … composed by Sigr. M.C.“. Es ist kaum nachvollziehbar, warum Clementi offenbar halb anonym bleiben wollte, da diese Variationen einige seiner bis dahin besten Stücke enthalten. Der „Black Joke“ ist eine gigueartige irische Volksmelodie, die Clementi mit einer schmucklosen, einstimmigen Begleitung, teilweise mit einem Tonika-Orgelpunkt, der einen Bordunbass andeutet, versah. Die dann folgenden Variationen ergeben eine Art Anthologie von Tastenfigurationen, die—wie etwa die schnellen Läufe in Oktaven in den Variationen Nr. 10 und Nr. 20—Clementi später berühmt machen sollten. Wiederholungsmuster in den Mollvariationen (14–15–14, 16–17–16) verleihen diesen Gruppierungen eine gewisse Selbstständigkeit als ternäre Formen en miniature. Die letzte Variation ist eine virtuose Glanzleistung mit Oktavfigurationen in beiden Händen, die durch mitreißende chromatische Wendungen belebt werden.

aus dem Begleittext von Leon Plantinga © 2011
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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