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David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2020

Making a pleasant deviation from Naxos’s many projects to record the keyboard works of Muzio Clementi, we have a well-filled disc of charming ‘bits and pieces’ .

Though industrious as a composer throughout his very long life, his early career had been as a keyboard exponent, tours from his native Italy taking him to London, where he was to make his home, eventually becoming known as the nation’s foremost concert performer and composer. Yet the wealth he created for himself came from his music publishing house, and the factory he created to enhance the sound quality produced from the developing piano keyboard. By virtue of his publishing house, he was able to build a large portfolio of his own new works he then distributed around Europe. Yet such a abundance of creativity left many of his scores unpublished, the Twenty-one Variations, on a melody known as ‘The Black Joke’ coming from his twenty-fifth year, but still in manuscript form when he died in 1832. Maybe it was just a student piece of music too lightweight to be counted in his opus numbers. Ten years later his Musical Characteristics were a series of pasticcio pieces in the style of Haydn, Kozeluch, Mozart, Sterkel, Vanhal, the composer ending the score with a substantial work of his own. A charming reading of the three-movement Sonata and three ‘encore’ length tracks complete the release. Yet you might join me in finding the disc’s main value coming from the use of a piano built in Muzio Clementi’s workshop in 1806, a date in the midst of Clementi’s life as a composer. It is one of the most beautiful instruments I have heard from that era, played here by Nicholas Rimmer, the British pianist who uses a freedom of tempo and shape of phrasing that is to my liking and appropriate to the music. Strongly commended. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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