This disc is a delight.
I will not discuss the square piano as the notes with the CD do this admirably.
What I want to do is recommend Clementi as a composer and give further
indication, although this is unnecessary, of the unequalled stature of Peter
Katin both as a pianist and musician.
Muzio Clementi was born in Rome in 1752; he moved to London in 1774 and died
in Evesham in 1832. He promoted Mozart only to be repaid by Mozart's undeserved
dislike of him ... which may put a different light on the Mozart - Salieri
story. Clementi was a sensational pianist and a deservedly respected teacher.
Among his pupils were Field, Moscheles, Kalkbrenner and Cramer. He composed
symphonies, a piano concerto, about a hundred piano sonatas which were greatly
admired by Beethoven and that, in itself, is some accolade! He was probably
one of the first composers to write what might be described as 'educational'
music with his volume of a hundred studies Gradus ad Parnassum. Debussy
was to parody this in his first piece in Children's Corner. Interested in
every aspect of music, Clementi went into the business of making pianos with
the London firm Clementi & Company which, in 1832, became Collard &
The music has charm, elegance and wit ... and, thankfully, they are neither
weakly delicate nor affected. They are strong but not demonstrative; they
do not dream or linger or become tedious. The thematic material is always
purposeful and never banal ... in fact, it is often memorable. The pieces
have a wonderful sense of continuity; the music never gets bogged down. And
I am convinced that Peter Katin's insight into the sonatas and his understanding
of the music realises these qualities. Other pianists might play these works
with that thistledown prissiness and baroquish lingering affection. As Claudio
Arrau once said, "We observe rests in the music but we do not turn them into
The F sharp minor Sonata is enchanting. Music to fall in love with. It has
a lyricism far ahead of its time and a melodic invention that is second to
none. The slow movement unfolds as a telling lament and the finale takes
a great amount of skill to execute containing fiendishly difficult passages
in thirds. It is really a splendid piece. Pianists should take it up without
delay and be thankful to Peter Katin for his pioneering work in bringing
this, and other Clementi sonatas, to our attention!
The B flat Sonata was probably known by Mozart as he seems to quote from
this sonata in his overture The Magic Flute. Is this plagiarism by Mozart?
Incidently the G minor Sonata sounds like Beethoven's Eroica theme. Perhaps
Mozart in his unmerited dislike for Clementi borrowed his theme as a sub
conscious desire to equate himself with the older composer.
Peter Katin's finger work is faultless throughout and the opening movement
of the B flat Sonata highlights this. In the andante he is successful in
bringing out the music's attractiveness which is captivating. The finale
is highly entertaining and the exciting bass line is imaginatively captured.
The G minor Sonata is not as well-written. The first movement seem to be
understated with a series of scalic passages and a very pleasant melody that
is constantly repeated. The andante is thoughtful and serious and what a
wonderful interpretation Peter Katin gives it. This is the great difference
between his playing and that of others. We have many fine pianists jetting
all over the world playing with sure techniques and confident panache winning
praise and, yet, while they are splendid executants some may lack the capacity
to understand all the music's secrets, which only time surrenders, and therefore
they can fail to reveal the music's hidden qualities. Peter Katin's playing
has not been universally admired for 50 years without good reason.
The D major Sonata is another example of happy, bright music and while the
music of the final rondo might be slender, Peter Katin captures its amusing
The last sonata on this disc is the F minor and it is the most profound,
reminding me of late Beethoven. It is dark music. The poignancy of the slow
movement is obvious and the finale teems with activity.
To describe Peter Katin's performances would necessitate a host of superlatives.