Howard Shelley’s splendid series of Clementi’s complete piano sonatas continues with a fourth volume containing some of the composer’s most important works. The ten sonatas of Opp 25, 26, and 33 that Shelley performs in this recording are all products of a period in Clementi’s life when he was the darling of the London music scene, acclaimed by contemporaries in the most effusive language: ‘But the performance beyond all others to astonish, was Clementi’s concerto on the Piano Forte: what brilliancy of finger, and wonderful execution! The powers of the instrument were never called forth with superior skill, perhaps not equal’.
As well as the elements of virtuosity described above, the works recorded here—particularly the fourth and fifth of the Opp 25 sonatas—contain a high degree of compositional originality and forward-looking piano writing. The A major sonata (No 4) has a curiously nineteenth-century sound. The first movement, Maestoso e cantabile, displays a profusion of melodic ornament reminiscent of Chopin. The fifth, perhaps Clementi’s greatest sonata, was much championed by Horowitz, among others.