Davide Cabassi

Clementi, Mozart: Sinfonies KV. 550, 551

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The music on this Italian release is designated as "Clementi-Mozart" in the track list, but in usual parlance it would be "Mozart-Clementi" -- Mozart's music arranged by composer and pianist Muzio Clementi. The Italian composer admired Mozart, even after Mozart pointedly refused to reciprocate, and these arrangements of the Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, and Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551, seem to have been intended as a kind of homage rather than as purely commercial products. Of course there were plenty of Mozart arrangements with that goal around at the time, too, but Clementi's are unusual in that they're very much a pianist's versions. The texture is something like that of many of Haydn's piano trios, with a dominant piano fully assisted by violin, cello, and flute only when clearly responsorial passages are needed and in fully contrapuntal textures. Otherwise, the other instruments mostly double the work of the piano. Pianist Davide Cabassi uses a modern piano, a questionable decision in such a historically oriented recording. The piano part itself is quite dense and captures a surprising amount of detail, but there's no denying that a good deal of the grandeur is lost. These arrangements have resided for two centuries in British library and here receive their world premieres; students of Mozart reception history will find it a valuable addition to their libraries.

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