Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) was one of the most influential pianist composers of the late classical period. A friend of Beethoven, the teacher of John Field, and rival to Mozart as a piano virtuoso. He was also a publisher and a piano manufacturer. His upbringing was unconventional to say the least – his family ‘sold’ him to an English nobleman Peter Beckford, who took him to his country estate in Dorset where he received the education of a young Englishman, and taught music to the daughters of the Beckford family. Clementi eventually moved to London where he quickly made the acquaintance of Salomon, Dussek ,Cramer and Haydn and made his name as one of the foremost composers for the piano of his time. He was also closely associated with the technical development of the piano towards the grand pianos we are used to today in concert halls.
His late sonatas inhabit an early romantic world, and are very impressive works that for-shadow Beethoven in places. The works on this set date from the years 1791-1802 when Clementi was based in London. The second of the op34 Sonatas in G minor is an especially striking work, and is followed by a wonderful free spirited Capriccio, which sounds almost improvisatory – a good example of Clementi’s forward looking nature as a composer. The Op. 36 Sonatinas have proved the most long lived of all his compositions, and known to all aspiring pianists. They get more difficult (progressive) as their mood and character changes. Clementi’s pedagogic works ‘Gradus ad Parnassum’ and ‘Introduction to the art of piano playing’ remain in print today, and were admired by Beethoven. These 3 sonatinas appeared in the latter work.