As a boy, I played one Clementi Sonata - I think it was from the Opus 6 set - and a few smaller pieces, and enjoyed them very much, so I was keen to hear what these early works were like. Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) was very important, as a composer for the piano, but also as a manufacturer and developer of the instrument, a publisher and fine performer and teacher of the instrument. (Amongst others, he taught John Field and Carl Czerny.) On his tombstone, as the included booklet says, are inscribed the words 'The father of the pianoforte'.
The Opus 1 set comprises six sonatas. They are all in major keys, and exhibit an elegance and clear structure. The composer was about twenty years of age when he wrote them. To perform, they require, as is typical of the period, a light, neat and agile technique, and Carlo Alberto Bacchi reveals himself as a fine interpreter and executor of these works.
Listen — Clementi: Spiritoso (Sonata Op 1 No 2 in G)
(PCL10284 track 3, 0:34-1:29) ℗ 2023 Piano Classics :
There is not a dramatic moment or dark cloud to disturb the happy, sunny and elegant moments. Some of the sonatas are in two movements and others in three, but all movements are simple in structure and all are short.
Listen — Clementi: Spiritoso (Sonata Op 1 No 4 in F)
(PCL10284 track 7, 1:01-1:57) ℗ 2023 Piano Classics :
The Opus 1 A set were written some ten years later - actually after the Op 6 set - and comprise five sonatas. They are all in major keys and in two or three movements, except for the single movement last sonata, which is also the only one in a minor key. That sonata is also a ricecar with five voices, and is much more complex and dark than the other works on this disc.
Listen — Clementi: Allegro (Sonatas Op 1a No 5 in A minor)
(PCL10284 track 23, 2:59-3:38) ℗ 2023 Piano Classics :
Overall the writing is more pianistic as well. The first three sonatas have final movements that are in theme and variations form, the first and the third based on folk songs from France and England, respectively, and the second on a melody by Gossec.
Listen — Clementi: Air du Balet de Mirza avec des Variations: Allegro
(Sonata Op 1a No 2 in B flat)
(PCL10284 track 18, 0:00-0:46) ℗ 2023 Piano Classics :
This is a very nice CD and pianist Carlo Alberto Bacchi performs with assurance, grace and mastery. He also has a fine insight into just how these works are to be performed, and the type of piano that was going to wield the results he wanted to achieve. (He chose a Bösendorfer as he believes that it had the clarity and overall sound closest to the type of piano that the composer would have favoured.) He also wrote the excellent and informative booklet.
The sound quality on the disc presents very well, and this young pianist, at twenty-three, impresses me with his straightforward approach to performing this music. I would be very interested to hear him tackle works that possess a greater emotional depth.
Copyright © 18 September 2023