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The American-born fortepianist Susan Alexander-Max died on 26 January, 2016. This release therefore blends a deep appreciation of her distinguished legacy in period performances of baroque and classical music with the sad realisation that this was to be her final recording for Naxos. The performances are enhanced by the authoritative context of the instruments used; these include a grand piano that was supplied to Haydn when he was in England and which he took back to Vienna on his return.
CLEMENTI, M.: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4
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Muzio CLEMENTI (1752–1832)
Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4
Sonata in D minor, Op. 50, No. 2
Sonata in G minor, Op. 50, No. 3
Sonata in G major, Op. 1, No. 3
Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 8, No. 2

Susan Alexander-Max, Fortepiano

This recording charts the breadth of Muzio Clementi’s compositional life from his first fortepiano sonatas to his last. The works reveal the stylistic developments in keyboard music during this period as well as the evolution of the instrument itself, reflected in the historically important fortepianos selected for this recording. After the limpid textures and melodic charm of the two early sonatas, the Sonata in G minor, Op. 50, No. 3 is the apex of Clementi’s entire keyboard output, a dark and dramatic tableau based on the passion of Dido and Aeneas, shot through with operatically charged emotional conflict and vivid colours.

Listen to an extract from Keyboard Sonata in
G Minor, Op. 50, No. 3, "Didone abbandonata":
II. Allegro ma con espressione

About the Artist
Susan Alexander-Max
A native of New York and a graduate, with distinction, of The Juilliard School of Music, Susan Alexander-Max was recognised internationally as a leading fortepianist and clavichordist specialising in the music of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. A featured performer on international radio and television, she was known to festivals, museums, universities and music colleges worldwide. In 1996 she founded the world renowned period instrument ensemble, The Music Collection. A professor of piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London for many years, Susan Alexander-Max devoted most of her teaching time to giving lecture-recitals and masterclasses in universities and conservatories. Her critically acclaimed recordings include both chamber music and solo repertoire. Susan Alexander-Max died on 26th January 2016.
Other recordings by Susan Alexander-Max
“Susan Alexander-Max … gives magnetic performances of five sparkling and original early sonatas by Clementi, on what one hopes is the start of a series from Naxos. Even the earliest sonata, in G major, written when Clementi was only 16 and hitherto unpublished, develops striking material, and the two minor-key sonatas in particular point forward to Beethoven and beyond, exploiting the keyboard in adventurous ways with a wide dynamic range and bold harmonies.”
Penguin Guide
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“Susan Alexander-Max proves herself to be a thoroughly persuasive advocate for this still underrated music. She allows herself proper freedoms of interpretation but within an evident respect for Clementi and his achievement. If you haven’t yet discovered that there is more to Clementi than the didactic Gradus ad Parnassum and the relatively simple Sonatinas, you now have a further excellent chance to do so.”
MusicWeb International
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“Alexander-Max exploits the distinctive sonorities of her piano’s registers with a fine ear for instrumental color, making it a joy to listen to her boldly imaginative interpretations…the vivid, thoughtful, and loving performances of Susan Alexander-Max make her Clementi’s most eloquent advocate.”
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“Alexander-Max has a sweet tone at the instrument. She has in her repertoire a large variety of arpeggio styles, which she deploys skillfully according to the context of the music.”
American Record Guide
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“Alexander-Max’s performances provide just the right balance between…emotive expressiveness and…formal qualities that established a foundation that continues to be honored by today’s composers. Her understanding of the capacities of her piano is comprehensive, and she can tease out subtleties that would be difficult (if not impossible) to achieve on a contemporary grand piano.”
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