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David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2019

The fifth release in an ongoing Naxos series under the collective heading ‘Keyboard Sonatas’, offering works in random order from his output composed over fifty years.

A brief history would give his Italian birth in 1752, and there he had a fledgling career as a gifted keyboard exponent. It was a move to London in 1774 that changed his life, Clementi becoming known as the nation’s foremost concert performer and composer. There followed ownership of a music publishing house, and the creation of a factory producing the latest developments in the sound quality and manufacture of pianos. The dates of his compositions were, however, poorly documented, though the opus 1—in its original and revised versions—certainly came with him to London. By the time he reached opus 24, published in 1784, his style was changing from a respectful follower of traditional sonata form, to a purveyor of music suited to a technical display, his first of the opus calling for a display of considerable agility. The later number, opus 26, by and large, also moved from two short movements to the more fashionable three movements, two fast ones surrounding a central adagio. They are here performed by Soyeon Kate Lee. Born in South Korea forty years ago, she was brought up in North America and studied at the Juilliard School of Music, the success in Naumburg International Piano Competition opening the doors to a life as a concert artist in major concert halls around the world. Her approach to Clementi is a modern one that uses the sustaining pedal and sizeable dynamic range. It may be a little short of fastidious period style, but the result is a disc of readily enjoyable performances, Lee’s approach being one of admiration for the composer. Naxos’s Canadian recording team ensures an excellent sound quality. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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