Muzio Clementi is one of the more fascinating contemporaries of Mozart. Adopted by an English nobleman Peter Beckford – his family agreed this arrangement as it would ensure that their son’s musical talents were nurtured, (an odd decision as the education he was receiving in Rome was among the best possible!) and he would be brought up as an English gentleman. So the young Clementi travelled from his native Rome to rural Dorset and a village called Stapleton. Beckford paid the family quarterly under 3 contracts until Clementi reached 21. In Dorset, he studied 8 hours a day Corelli, Scarlatti, Handel and Paradies, and got into the rhythm of a large country house, playing for guests, and instructing Beckwith’s daughters on the piano. The Beckwith library contained scores by J.S and C.P.E Bach, and these soon fascinated Clementi, exerting an influence on the sonatas on these discs.
Clementi moved to London in 1774, and remained there more or less for the rest of his life. At this time London Piano School was one of the most influential groups of pianists – J.B Cramer, J.L Dussek, and later Ignaz Moscheles and William Sterndale Bennett. Piano manufacturing was at its height (Clementi would one day own a piano manufacturer in London), and Broadwood in particular produced extremely powerful instruments that appealed to these composers. Clementi’s London sonatas exhibit a remarkable change in his style, especially so in the 0p.25 works – these sonatas were to influence the young Beethoven with whom he later became friends. The Op.33 set includes a work in C major that also survives as a piano concerto – one of many Clementi concertos adapted from sonatas that are sadly now lost. The Op.33 sonatas date from 1794.
No composer was more influential in establishing the dominant role of the piano in 19th century European music.
- Recorded in 2008, period instrument performances on a 1798 Kirckman fortepiano.
- Including booklet essay by the artist.