Martin Jones

Carl Czerny: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2

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Martin Jones's second volume of the piano sonatas of Carl Czerny covers the beginning and end of Czerny's work in the genre, and on the whole the music is more understated than what's in Jones's first volume. This one opens with Czerny's last sonata, No. 11, which dates from 1843, more than 20 years later than the Sonata No. 1 (1820), which is also on the first disc here. The sonata has more lyrical ideas present than in the middle sonatas, but still has its Beethovenian moments and some drama. An interesting feature of the first movement is the frequent use of octaves in the right hand, and there is a definite 19th century, salon- or music box-appropriate flavor at times. That flavor is also found in the Character Etude, Op. 755/1, and in the almost John Field-like delicacy of the Chanson sans Paroles, Op. 795/1, both of which date from around the same time as the Sonata No. 11. The Sonatas Nos. 1 and No. 2 have five movements each. The first four seem to follow a traditional sonata structure, with the fifth being a fugue tacked on as an afterword. No. 1 is definitely by Czerny, the student of Beethoven, while No. 2 is written more concisely and, in terms of expression, more conservatively. The Sonatina that follows is expectedly of smaller proportions and less theatrical than the sonatas. The Sonata No. 7, one of the "grande fantasies" like No. 8 and No. 9 (on Vol. 1), is also a more modest work, not as "grande" as its siblings. With less dense textures and fewer passages of brilliant pianism, the sonatas in this volume give the listener a chance to appreciate Czerny as a more rounded composer and enjoy the music without getting too caught up in rousing heroism or impressive virtuosic feats. So far, Jones has again made the case for another underrated composer, presenting these sonatas with appropriate flair and finesse.

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