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Clementi & Brahms on contemporary pianos
Immerseel & Rittner

Clementi Sonatas Op. 13 in F minor,Op. 24: no 2 in B flat major, Op. 25: no 5 in F sharp minor, Op. 37: no 2 in G major
Jos van Immerseel (Fortepiano) Finchcocks, Goudhurst, Kent, England
Accent ACC 1011

It is amazing always how listening to recordings on suitable contemporary instruments can enlarge the standing of 'minor' composers, or (in this case) of earlier works by canonic greats. Larger modern pianos can, paradoxically, diminish the music.

In Clementi's case it is not insignificant that he was himself intimately involved in the minutae of piano construction and voicing, as quoted in Harold Hoermen's insightful commentary.

Pianist/conductor Jos van Immerseel brings a wealth of thought and experience of later historic instruments, and these sonatas as played on a Rosenberger instrument made in Vienna ca. 1795 (now in the Finchcock Collection in Kent) insist you take them very seriously. The recordings were made as long ago as 1979 and sound as good as any of today's thirty years on...

Hear samples at http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1173102/a/Clementi+Piano+Sonatas+%2F+Jos+Van+Immerseel.htm

See also: Clementi/Glazer(fortepiano) and Clementi/Demidenko (Hyperion)

Brahms: Early Piano Works
Sonata No. 2 Op. 2, Variations Op. 9, Ballades Op. 10

Hardy Rittner (Streicher Piano 1851)
MDG 904 1494-6

Even more revelatory, perhaps, is this Brahms disc with the highly virtuosic early sonata and more inward, reflective pieces played on a piano the composer might have known.

This well preserved Streicher piano (with some orginal strings remaining !) seems to stimulate Rittner's aural fastidiousness - ultimately it is ears rather than fingers which determine the quality of piano performances - and his phrasing is constantly alive to the subtler nuances of the music.

A CD to seek out even if you have good accounts of the same works.

Peter Grahame Woolf