Clementi - Sonata in Bb Op 24 No 2 1st Movt
Muzio Clementi might best be described as a musical entrepreneur as well as a hugely talented pianist and pedagogue.
He arrived in England as a youth of only 14 years old as a consequence of coming to the notice of a wealthy Englishmen, Sir Peter Beckford, who heard of Clementi’s talent whilst visiting Rome.
Whilst his career was not limited to fame in England, he nevertheless made this his home and is credited as being the “father” of the pianoforte and of pianoforte technique.
Pupil Match & Suitability
This is likely to be a popular piece.
Whilst it has a con brio tempo, it lies easily beneath the fingers, sounds good and should be fun to play.
If a student is really going to struggle with learning this piece then one should ask whether they are yet up to this level.
It would suit all ages of student.
Style & Tempo
The bright optimistic mood of the Classical style is easily identified here.
The harmonic structure is simple and the keyboard writing based around chordal structures and scales.
The mood should be light and airy as in this performance by Szokolay.
Phrasing & Articulation
Works by Clementi and Mozart can look deceptively easy to play.
A feature of their style is simplicity: simplicity of both line and harmony. Unlike Haydn who often wanders into interesting and sometimes more distant keys, and whose ideas can be more surprising, Clementi's writing is more straightforward.
Therefore it can easily become what might be called 'over-phrased' - in which case the playing is rather cumbersome and unsubtle.
At the other end of the spectrum it becomes virtually nothing more than a series of well controlled notes.
Tone & Texture
What great fun !
This should be the result. Anything reminiscent of glue and Hanon suggests a very inappropriate approach - the lines should dance, at whatever tempo is chosen.
The textures would have had great clarity when played on the sort of piano that Clementi used, as in this performance of Opus 24 No 2, played here on fortepiano by Costantino Mastroprimiano.
Your students will need a comfortable technique to get around this movement, although most of the challenges are to do with scale playing and this should be an area in which they are well prepared.
Much of the fingering here should be fairly straightforward, given the scalic nature of this piece.
Common sense will dictate the majority of it, and it will show if your pupil does not instinctively know their scale fingering!
This can also be an incentive to refresh a pupil’s memory and to get them pratising their scales.
Generally speaking the speed of notes within trills will be determined by the overall tempo. At a decent pace the trills need only use semiquavers.
Most students will be able to integrate semiquavers well and could find quicker notes too much.
Sextuplets will be the maximum number possible.
Do begin on the upper note and conclude with a turn, as indicated.
Pedal will enhance certain passages: notably some of the longer notes (bar 15 etc) and the singing lyrical notes (bars 27 & 29 Cs for example).
It should not be used for the repeated notes and is clearly incorrect when used in such a way as to blur faster moving notes.
The difference between the positive and negative mind is enormous.
Approach this piece with optimism and energy rather than a concern for the number or rapidity of notes.
Aim to show your students that playing scales quickly, fluently and musically can be both fun and easy !
The type of problems encountered by students here are typical of those existing elsewhere in the literature.
Establishing a good practice routine and being knowledgeable about practice techniques is vital.
The road to success is not about 'talent', rather it concerns the aptitude for consistent work of the right kind.
Here we will outline the kinds of techniques best adopted, and this can be used as a more general template elsewhere for good practice techniques.
This performance is very promising, with much to commend and the pace is quick. However, notice that at some points control and accuracy are not maintained.
A slightly slower pace could give greater fluency although at the expense of some excitement and buoyancy. The performer needs to decide on their optimum pace.
An excellent performance will demonstrate a buoyant musical spirit with confident technique and give the impression of great fun and character.
A good performance will have a strong technique to it and will have some character but may be rather more matter of fact and possibly not have the same degree of spontaneity about it. Nonetheless it will have some colour and excitement about it.
A sound performance will be played at a good tempo. However the fingerwork may well lack sparkle in the tone and the mood could well be more opaque and flat than rousing and full of detail.
Here is a vigorous live performance by Horowitz: