Olivier Cavé

Muzio Clementi: Didone Abbandonata

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Olivier Cavé chose four of Muzio Clementi's more popular sonatas for his second album on the Aeon label. Clementi is not a conventional choice for most pianists, although his reputation has improved in the years surrounding his 250th anniversary in 2002, but Cavé's enthusiasm for Clementi's music is unmistakable in this recording. He understands the music and its place in the repertoire, how it straddles the Classical and Romantic eras. He is mindful of the weight of the music, yet manages to give it life and a sense of direction or character that is engaging. The second movement of the Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 25/5, marked Lento e patetico, could be played with pathos, but Cavé treats it gently and delicately as a bittersweet memento rather than a picture of anguish. His touch is as light in the following Presto, as well, where other pianists might tend to play with as much force as they would a Beethoven sonata. Cavé calls all four sonatas "dramas in music," which is certainly true of the final one, Didone abbandonata. Even though it's still not clear if Clementi intended the entire sonata to be programmatic or just the opening movement, Cavé gives all of it drama, cleanly and without extreme theatrics, so that it comes alive for the listener. The balance Cavé brings to Clementi's sonatas is very pleasing to hear and scores more points in the composer's favor.

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