Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801)
Keyboard Sonatas 2
Sonata in C, R.19 [3:52]
Sonata in G, R.20 [5:22]
Sonata in C, R.21 [5:30]
Sonata in A, R.22 [4:49]
Sonata in B flat, R.23 [6:23]
Sonata in D, R.24 [4:52]
Sonata in C minor, R.25 [4:03]
Sonata in B flat, R.26 [4:51]
Sonata in D minor, R.27 [7:06]
Sonata in D, R.28 [7:45]
Sonata in B flat, R.29 [7:49]
Sonata in C, R.30 [4:10]
Sonata in G, R.31 [1:03]
Sonata in F, R.32 [2:36]
Sonata in C, R.33 [2:10]
Sonata in B flat, R.34 [2:20]
Sonata in A, R.35 [2:00]
Victor Sangiorgio (piano)
rec. Wyastone Concert Hall, Monmouth, Wales, 15-16 November 2009. DDD
NAXOS 8.572689 [76:44]
This is Naxos's second volume of Domenico Cimarosa's keyboard sonatas performed on a modern piano by Italian-born, UK-based soloist Victor Sangiorgio. Following Sonatas R.1-18, Sangiorgio here presents Sonatas R.19-35 (R standing for Nick Rossi, whose edition is published by Artaria), thereby completing his cycle of the complete known sonata movements of Cimarosa.
In some ways, Cimarosa is a younger version of compatriot Baldassare Galuppi, another composer whose large and well-known opera output has overshadowed his instrumental music. Naxos published two volumes of Galuppi's own keyboard sonatas in 2011, also on a modern piano (review, review), but have been rather slower to release the second Cimarosa, after the first came out in 2009 (review).
On the other hand, as the notes reiterate, there is not too much concrete evidence beyond a dusty volume title that Cimarosa actually wrote these Sonatas - more perhaps an absence of evidence that he did not! It is also fair to say that the works, all of which came to light in the 20th century as single movements, are grouped into more standard-looking sonatas as much by key- and mood-based modern guesswork than according to any definite instructions by Cimarosa.
In musical terms, aside from the generous extra ten minutes, this disc is practically the spitting image of the first. Cimarosa very likely wrote these works for the fortepiano rather than the harpsichord, but they do sound very much like harpsichord music, most obviously in the lack of variation in dynamics and articulation - adhered to in performance by Sangiorgio - indications for which Cimarosa all but omitted.
The majority of the single movements are one or two minutes in length, with just a single item running to four. It would be pointless, therefore, to expect much depth, but Cimarosa was certainly not frivolous in his keyboard writing: these are well-crafted, elegant, melodious, generally optimistic pieces, with the occasional recourse to minor key reflection of a more expressive nature. It would be wrong to measure Cimarosa's Sonatas against the countless masterpieces of the genre of Domenico Scarlatti, or for that matter against those quite different later works of Haydn and Mozart: for one thing, Cimarosa was writing in another era with different expectations, and for another, of course, he may not even be the author!
Victor Sangiorgio gives a faithful, cogent and infectious account of the music. Nonetheless, if Cimarosa's artistry is not to be relegated undeservedly to background music, it will probably be better served sampled in smaller doses. This recording was made two years after the first disc, and in a different location. Nevertheless, sound quality is pretty much ideal. The booklet notes, co-written by Allan Badley and Nick Rossi himself, are brief but informative. The cover photo should enthuse fans of Ligurian balconies everywhere.
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Sangiorgio gives a faithful, cogent and infectious account of the music.