Muzio Clementi was one of the pivotal composers of
the period spanning the late 18th century and early 19th century. Unlike
the popular trend - that of opera and vocal music - he dedicated himself
to the development of the piano, being composer, performer, publisher
and even builder of the instruments. Called the "father of the
piano" during his lifetime, Clementi was trained as an organist
and harpsichordist, and spent his formative years in England, where
he seems to have been self-taught.
Clementi’s music covers a wide range of styles and
emotions. Ranging from some Mozart-like works, such as the Sonata in
B flat major op. 13 no. 4, where one can hear the influences of both
Mozart and Haydn, to the later works, such as the opus 37 sonatas, which
are much closer in spirit to Schubert. Clementi provides the listener
with a great deal of enjoyment; this is delightful music, clearly privileging
melody rather than style or discourse. The variations on the French
nursery-tune Au clair de la lune, show the composer in a playful
mode, taking a very simple tune - the first tune every French child
learns on the piano - and weaving arabesques of melody around it to
make a beautiful work fit for the concert hall.
The Black Joke is another set of variations
that takes a simple song and builds on it brilliantly. This simple Irish
song is played with great subtlety, and Clementi adds to it and embellishes
it in a surprising manner, stretching it out, in this recording, to
almost 22 minutes.
This is an attractive set, featuring some beautiful
music very well played by Maria Tipo. Clementi is one of those pivotal
composers who deserves more recognition.