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Although the booklet notes’ claim that ‘Clementi’s music is barely known today’ is hardly true, this cycle does seem to be asking for a reappraisal of his music. The latest to champion Clementi is Italian pianist Giacomo Scinardo, who starts, appropriately enough, with the six brief sonatas of Op 1, ‘for harpsichord or piano’, five out of six of which are in two movements. There is something of Haydn’s wit here (the finale of Op 1/2); but the cleanliness and simplicity of the writing is all Clementi. Scinardo’s articulation is on point, and he seems to think orchestrally.

The Op 7 sonatas are fuller, and certainly more satisfying. The drama of Op 7/1 signifies a leap forward. Scinardo is stylish here, the Mesto quasi-Beethovenian. The opening movement of Op 7/2 really sings, balanced by a quirky finale. The second disc brings greater profundities in the Largo e sostenuto of Op 13/6, the internal turmoil of Op 13/6 and the magnificent Didone abbandonata Sonata Op 50/3. Scinardo is a most musical exponent, and in the latter piece allows the angst to unfold unhurriedly. All this is not enough, however, to topple Howard Shelley from top recommendation in this repertoire.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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