Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Glyn Pursglove
MusicWeb International, April 2010

It is on his numerous operas that Cimarosa’s enduring reputation is built. But he was not only an operatic composer. He wrote some fine sacred music, such as the Requiem in G, a Dixit Dominus and a Magnificat in D major. There is good music to be heard in some of his chamber works, too. How far, and in precisely what form, these sonatas should contribute to our sense of his musical achievement is a little problematic, however.

These pieces were unknown until the 1920s when a manuscript volume was discovered in Florence, containing 81 single movements for keyboard and carrying the title “Raccolta di varie Sonate / per il fortepiano / compose dal Signor Cimarosa”. That title is the most substantial evidence for Cimarosa’s composition of these previously unknown pieces. Six more keyboard movements have turned up since. There seems to be no very strong reason to doubt Cimarosa’s responsibility for the works (in the absence of other claimants), though it should be stressed that neither manuscript is in his hand.

In the British Library is another manuscript which contains a three-movement sonata made up of movements which appear singly in the Florentine manuscript. Other pieces in the Florentine manuscript also contain directions such as “segue Allegro” or “segue Andante”. It therefore seems reasonable to assemble the 87 separate movements into three (or occasionally two) movement works, especially since the individual movements are so very short—the longest on this disc is just over three minutes, most are less than two minutes and quite a number are less than one minute long. The present disc is based on the edition of the sonatas by Nick Rossi (the R. numbers in the track listening refer to this edition) published by Artaria.

The music is consistently pleasant and tuneful, often lively and occasionally gracefully poetic. No great emotional depths are attempted, and the CD is best sampled rather than listened to in its entirety. There are many attractive pieces—such as the andante of Rossi 7, the closing allegro of Rossi 11, the opening allegro of Rossi 12 or the largo of Rossi 17. Just occasionally one senses the composer’s ‘dramatic’ experience.

Evidently Cimarosa chose not to publish these pieces (assuming that they are his). Were they perhaps for use with pupils (as Rossi and Allan Badley suggest in their booklet notes)? Or conceivably they were ‘private’ pieces never intended for public performance?

Playing a modern piano, Victor Sangiorgio is sympathetic to the music’s origins in the early days of the piano and, making only very sparing use of the pedals, his performances have crispness and (generally) an appropriate sense of scale. While this is hardly music of major importance, it is never less than pleasing and it affords useful insights into the continuity of the Neapolitan keyboard tradition.

Jed Distler, September 2009

Primarily known as one of his generation’s top opera composers, Domenico Cimarosa (1749–1801) may or may not have penned the 87 brief keyboard movements that were only discovered in 1927. Nevertheless, various editors then grouped the pieces into two- or three-movement sonatas. The music’s keyboard deployment and basic style evokes Cimarosa’s countryman Domenico Scarlatti (lots of echoed phrases and not-so-easy repeated notes) minus the older master’s witty textural inventiveness and felicitous harmonic twists. Most of the movements amount to charming expositions in need of development, and often seem to end just when you expect more to happen. Still, this disc ought to attract classical radio hosts looking for short, bubbly, and easily digestible fare to close up programming gaps.

And if you want background music guaranteed not to overwhelm your dinner guests, Victor Sangiorgio’s clean, even-handed, excellently engineered performances are ideal…Once Volume 2 appears, Sangiorgio most likely will have the complete Cimarosa sonata cycle field all to himself.

Michael Cameron
Fanfare, September 2009

These works were clearly written for the harpsichord, although all three of these recordings use the piano. The recorded sound is satisfactory, and Victor Sangiorgio plays with stylish intimacy. © 2009 Fanfare Read complete review

James Manheim, May 2009

Domenico Cimarosa, a few years older than Mozart, was known for his operas; the keyboard sonatas contained here turned up in a copy in the early twentieth century, attributed to Cimarosa but not definitely his. They originally surfaced as tiny single-movement works, but several scholars, including annotator Nick Rossi, have grouped them by key and mood into three-movement sonatas. The move seems reasonable given the extreme brevity of the individual pieces; they don’t even have the scope of Scarlatti’s sonatas (which themselves may have been grouped together). The notes suggest that these may have been teaching pieces, which would fit with their simplicity; each “movement” is a binary construction, with no development, in most cases about a minute long, and generally focused on a particular figure or technical problem. But they’re more than exercises; the outer movements, especially, have a certain flash, and listeners who enjoy Soler and the like may be intrigued by these (even if 18 of them in a row is a lot). Italo-Australian pianist Victor Sangiorgio offers fine, dry readings on a modern piano. The chronology of these pieces is unclear. They seem to have been composed for fortepiano (there are a few dynamic indications) but to have kept the harpsichord market in mind (there are just a few). Sangiorgio uses very little pedal and catches the precise location of the music at the tipping point between the piano and harpsichord eras. Classical-era keyboard specialists and enthusiasts will find music of interest here.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, April 2009

Cimarosa was a celebrated opera composer who dominated the scene in the late 18th century, with over sixty major works to his credit. It's really puzzling that he should write such little works—sonatinas, actually, and even more curious why movements—many under a minute long—are never developed, so they're over as soon as they begin! Even Clementi et al did better in that respect. It's a pity, really, because Cimarosa's ideas and melodies are delightful. Victor Sangiorgio plays beautifully, but I found this recording rather unsatisfying, through no fault of the artist.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2009

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group