Piano virtuoso Muzio Clementi once engaged in a contest with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to determine who was the better pianist. According to the crowd, when it came to pianistic talent, it was a tie. When it comes to compositions, though, history judged Mozart the winner. But Clementi runs a very close second.
This is the fourth release of Clementi’s music by the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma directed by Francesco La Vecchia for Naxos. Like the previous albums, this has some of Clementi’s symphonies, but this time the ensemble goes a little farther.
The high point of the disc is the Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 33, No. 3. At first blush, it sounds very much like an early Mozart piano concerto. Clementi, though, doesn’t mind showing off.
The piano part is full of difficult passages and dizzying runs that are meant to dazzle. And they do. Bruno Canino not only plays meticulously, but with a light touch that’s perfectly suited to this work. Clementi wrote the concerto to entertain — and entertainment is what this performance delivers.
The disc also includes two short symphonies from Clementi’s Op. 18. These works are also light in texture and content, and the delicate reading they get from La Vecchia and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma is right in character.
If you love Mozart, you should like Clementi. And with this recording, there’s a lot to like.
Muzio Clementi: Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 33, No. 3; Minuetto pastorale in D major, WoO 36; Symphony in B-flat major, Op. 18, No. 1; Symphony in D major, Op. 18, No. 2
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma; Francesco La Vecchia, conductor; Bruno Canino, piano