Alessandro Marangoni…is convinced that Clementi was concerned that Gradus should develop musicality, not just pianistic technique. He is determined to present these “studies” as music—as the composer’s testament of a lifetime of composing and assimilating influences from the best of both the contemporary and the antique—he and the composer succeed brilliantly.
We are lucky to have Signor Marangoni as our guide on Clementi’s Parnassus.Marangoni consistently finds the latent poetry and early romantic fire in these pieces (listen to No.36). Again, I eagerly look forward to the rest of the series. Recommended enthusiastically to listeners of an 18th-century “classical” or early romantic bent.
Last November I reviewed the first disc in Muzio Clementi’s Gradus ad Parnassumm, a series of exercises for students. The composer had been brought to London in 1766 by a wealthy Englishman who gave the highly gifted Italian teenager seven years intensive tuition at the keyboard and in composition. He was to become England’s most famous virtuoso performer and with money earned developed a highly regarded piano making company and music publishing house. It suited both companies to increase the number of students playing the instrument, hence his teaching manuals ‘The Art of Playing on the Piano Forte, Exemplified in a series of Exercises’. They were intended for advanced students aiming to perfect their technique to the highest possible level.They also explore music in its different forms, so that we have fugues, preludes and canons, and if you turn to track 4 you find the technical level that Clementi expected of the student. The disc takes us from twenty-five to forty-one in the series, fast tempos predominating and requiring considerable dexterity, the thirtieth being a whirlwind of notes. I guess that Clementi never expected them to be played in concert, though the Thirty-ninth is a most imposing sonata movement of some twelve minutes duration and could have come from early Beethoven. The Italian-born Alessandro Marangoni revels in passages that require technical virtuosity, his fingers having the exactitude that brings a crystalline quality to the music. The sound quality is pleasing.