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Six Progressive Sonatinas, Op. Muzio Clernenti was born in Rome in , the son of a silver smith. By the age of thirteen he had become proficient enough as a musician to be employed as organist at the Church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso and to attract the attention of an English visitor, Peter Beckford, a cousin of William Beckford, author of Vathek and builder of the remarkable Gothic folly of Fonthill.
Peter Beckford, as he himself claimed, bought Clementi from his father for a period of seven years, during which the boy lived at Beckford's estate in Darset, perfecting his ability as a keyboard player and, presumably, his general education. In Clernenti moved to London, where he began to take part in professional concert life as a composer and performer, playing his own sonatas, some of which were published at this time, and directing performances at the Italian opera. Clementi's success as a performer persuaded him to travel and in he played for Queen Marie Antoinette in France and early in for her brother, the Emperor Joseph II, in Vienna.
Mozart met Clementi in January, when they were both summoned to play for the Emperor. Clementi improvised and then played a sonata, according to his later account, the Sonata in B flat major, Opus 24 No.
Mozart then played and both of them shared the performance of sonatas by Paisiello, and improvised on a theme from one of the sonatas on two pianos. Mozart had a poor opinion of Clementi's musical taste and feeling, but grudgingly admitted his technical ability in right-hand playing of passages in thirds: in other respects he was a mere mechanicus.
A year later he wrote again about his rival, describing him as ciarlatano, a charlatan, like all Italians, writing the direction Presto on his music, but playing merely Allegro, and adding that his sonatas were worthless: the passages in sixths and octaves he considered striking, but dangerous for his sister to practise and potentially damaging to her lightness of touch. Mozart's opinion of Clementi has proved damaging to the latter's reputation but it is possible that Mozart and Vienna suggested new styles of playing to Clementi, who returned to England in , winning a distinguished place for himself through the brilliance of his playing and for his piano teaching.
He wrote symphonies and concertos, but found his position threatened during Haydn's two visits to London in the s. In the same decade he involved himself in piano manufacture and music publishing with Longman and Broderip and from , after the firm's bankruptcy, in partnership with Longman, Hyde, Banger and Collard.
He travelled abroad extensively in the earlier years of the nineteenth century in the interests of the company. John Field, his pupil, was employed to demonstrate the new keyboard instruments and accompanied him to Russia, while in Vienna he secured the English publication rights for compositions by Beethoven, who held him in esteem as a composer and performer. From Clementi was again in England, where he was much respected and won particular success for his teaching compositions, an Introduction to the Art of Playing the Piano Forte of , revised in , and the famous Gradus ad Parnassum, completed and published in the same year.
He retired from business in , settling first in Lichfield and then in Evesham, where he died in , to be buried in Westminster Abbey. His legacy to pianists was a significant one, both through his compositions and through his teaching, an introduction to a new virtuosity and exploration of the possibilities of a newly developed instrument.
The six sonatas of Op. The second movement rondo has a simple principal theme and includes, in its course, a G minor episode. The lyrical F sharp minor sonata Op. The last movement includes passages in thirds, a technique for which Clementi was particularly well known both as performer and composer. The Sonatina in D major, Op. It remains thoroughly characteristic of Clementi's earlier work. The six Progressive Pianoforte Sonatinas were written in and revised in The first of the set, in C major, offers an ingenuous first subject, followed by a brief modulation to the dominant and a development of similar length.
There is an F major slow movement and a final lively return to the original key. The third sonatina, in C major, opens with a first subject formed from the descending arpeggio, the development opening with the same figure inverted.
The G major movement, in two parts only, cans for cantabile playing and leads to a final C major Allegro. The following sonatina, in F major, includes a B flat major slow movement and a final energetic rondo with triplet rhythms. This is followed by the fifth sonatina, in G major, in which the running triplets of the first movement are succeeded by a Swiss air and a closing rondo of dynamic contrast. Opus 36 ends with a further D Major sonatina, with an opening over an Alberti bass and a second movement that makes characteristic use of thirds.
The Sonata in B flat Major, Op. It was revised and re-issued as Op. It was suggested that Mozart remembered the sonata from the Vienna court performance of , when he came to write the Overture to The Magic Flute in Any thematic resemblance is probably coincidental, although the modem listener cannot but be aware of the similarity of the first subject.
Balazs Szokolay The Hungarian pianist Balazs Szokolay was born in Budapest in , the son of a mother who is a pianist and a father who is a composer and professor at the Liszt Academy. He later spent two years at the Academy of Music in Munich, with a German government scholarship.
Balazs Szokolay made an early international appearance with peter Nagy at the Salzburg Interforum in, and in substituted for Nikita Magaloff in Belgrade in a performance of the Piano Concerto No.
He is now a soloist with the Hungarian State Orchestra and has given concerts in a number of countries abroad, including Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Poland, the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria and the former Czechoslovakia. He has won a number of important prizes at home and abroad, including, most recently, success in the Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians Competition.
He took fourth place in the Leeds International Piano Competition in , when his playing was particularly commended in the British press for its energy and imagination. About this Recording 8. Close the window.
6 Piano Sonatinas, Op.36 (Clementi, Muzio)