Early-Classical keyboard sonatas by a little-known teacher of Beethoven.
Andrea Luchesi was born in the Italian region of Friuli in 1741 and died in poverty 60 years later in Bonn, birthplace of the composer who grants him a tentative foothold on history, Ludwig van Beethoven. It was Beethoven’s far more renowned teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe, who wrote a biography of Luchesi and described his early training in music at home, then his move to Venice, and his early success as an opera composer.
As a keyboard player and member of a Venetian opera company, Luchesi travelled to Germany in 1771 and made his career there, being appointed the Kapellmeister to the Prince Elector’s court in Bonn assuccessor to Beethoven’s grandfather. He attracted favourable mention in the journals of the English musical commentator and traveller Charles Burney, and the piano-maker JB Cramer also praised him as one of the best Italian composers of his day as well as an excellent organist. There have even been far-fetched claims that Luchesi was the true author of some of Mozart’s best-known works!
The six sonatas recorded here and published in Bonn in 1772 as Luchesi’s Opus 1 were originally designated as sonatas for the harpsichord with violin accompaniment, much in the style of violin sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven. Luchesi, however, reduced the violin part to a marginal role, mostly doubling the keyboard’s right-hand part; Roberto Plano has accordingly eliminated it altogether in this recording, saying that ‘I believe it to be closer to the composer’s original intention.’
Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801), like many of his compatriots, left his homeland Italy to find his luck elsewhere in Europe. A virtuoso keyboard player he undertook extensive concert tours, before settling at the court of Bonn, where he became Maestro di Cappella and sought-after teacher. One of his most famous pupils was…the young Ludwig van Beethoven.
Luchesi’s Sonatas Op. 1 were written for keyboard with violin accompaniment, which in the present recording is omitted, since it plays a marginal role. The sonatas are written in the Viennese Classicist style, witty, tuneful and brilliantly written for the keyboard, displaying uncommon virtuosity. One can clearly see the influence these works must have had on the young Ludwig..
Italian pianist Roberto Plano was First Prize Winner of the Cleveland Piano Competition and the top winner in the Cliburn Competition of 2005. He settled in the USA, where he is Professor at Indiana University and is expanding his pianistic career. The NY Times wrote about him: “he showed artistic maturity beyond his years..there was a wonderful clarity and control of inner voices in his performance..”.