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Sinuous, elegant and digitally demanding, the sonatas of the Rome-born composer Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) have been championed by Emil Gilels, Vladimir Horowitz, and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli to splendid effect. Howard Shelley’s six-volume set of complete sonatas (Hyperion; 2008-2010) cemented the composer’s reputation. Other keyboard works by Clementi are frequently heard from child performers; the 2002 Ivory Classics release (CD-72005) by eleven-year-old Albert Wong managed to scale down Clementi’s musical message to a preteen’s world-view.

Falling between the categories of supreme virtuoso and infant prodigy is Nova Scotia- born Ian Hominick, a former student of Earl Wild and Jerome Rose, now teaching on the piano faculty at the University of Mississippi (Hominick previously recorded works by Sigismund Thalberg for Titanic Records). His choice of five sonatas benefits from an appealing Steinway on the premises of the Chicago classical music radio station WFMT. Clementi’s works, for all their appeal, cannot be termed intellectual music, so Hominick’s down-to-earth approach of buttonholing the listener with amiable, back-slapping apostrophes is idiomatic, even when some unexpected rhythmic jolts occur along the way.

Musicologists have stressed the historical importance of Clementi, from his contacts with Mozart and Beethoven to his teaching of key pupils such Carl Czerny. Yet it is high time that the principle of enjoying Clementi’s music as one does Italian bel canto lyricism, thoughtlessly if not mindlessly, be emphasised.

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica


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