Fresh from my enjoyment of volumes 1 and 2 in this series, I
find that there’s no cessation in the latest release. As before,
Martin Jones and the Nimbus team has elected to intersperse
youthful and later works the better to construct artful programmes.
And, as before, it takes two CDs per release at least to begin
to do justice to Czerny’s prodigious output.
We start with the Tenth Sonata, completed in 1831. It opens
boldly, dramatically, and virtuosically, qualities that are
the sine qua non of Czerny performances too, as mediated
by the ever brilliant Martin Jones. The slow movement, by contrast,
is vested with great poetic distinction, a song adorned with
bewitching ornaments and real depth. But Czerny doesn’t slumber
too long in the world of poesy, as his Scherzo is almost militantly
saucy, and the finale’s left hand figures generate an almost
toccata-like ethos. The Rondino seems to hint at Haydn’s Emperor
Quartet, whilst also advancing the claims of a limpid treble
sonority and refined legerdemain. The Sonatine includes
a deliciously lilting finale reflecting the generosity of his
music making as much as elsewhere we are confronted with its
exceptional digital demands. This first disc ends with the Gran
Capriccio of c.1828, a much more turbulent affair, not least
in bass staccati, relieved by the arrival, in the central slow
movement, of a noble hymnal procession.
The second disc contains the Third and Fourth Sonatas. Both
works date from 1824. The Third is rather less developed and
interesting than the later Tenth. Martin Jones takes the slow
movement at a bit of a rollicking tempo, and I’m not sure about
the indication ‘Andante con molto ma serioso’, as it sounds
more con moto than serioso throughout – no fault
of Jones’s, doubtless. Czerny’s Romance, with its stratospherically
high opus number of 755 was written at some point between 1845
and 1850 and is an absolute charmer, whereas he pays a Bachian
homage in the Capriccio à la Fuga. There are some Beethovenian
elements in the opening of the Fourth Sonata, and the slow movement
is rich in chromatic and lyric interest. The finale meanwhile
is playful, and effortlessly projected by Jones, who seems quite
as adept in this repertoire as he had in the previous two volumes.
Nimbus’s slightly billowy sound has considerable warmth. The
notes by Calum MacDonald are not only extensive but very engagingly
written, and seal another outstanding release in this series.
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