After hearing Clementi play on an out-of-time piano of which three keys struck, Mozart, never a good colleague, wrote to his father: "Clementi … has a lot of facility in his right hand … otherwise he hasn't a penny's worth of taste or feeling - he is a mere mechanic."
After these lines became known, many years later, idolatrous Germans would rather believe Mozart than form their own judgments, and Clementi remained tagged "a mere mechanic", especially since the Germans and their values became all too inflentual for a century. True, it was also learned that Beethoven had included several volumes of Clementi's sonatas in his own slender library, that he studied them carefully, esteemed them highly, and profited from them. But alas, Beethoven wrote none of this to a letter.
Forty-six of Clementi's piano-solo sonatas appeared before 1796, the year in which Beethoven published his earliest. Beethoven knew those compositions, as we have No. 2, composed in 1788, herein recorded, was said to have been his favorite. It is also interesting to observe in this recording the affinity between certain phases of Beethoven's style and the Clementi sonata in F Minor, Op. 14, No. 3, published in 1784. How Beethoven-ish in it's terse intensity and insistence, we might say thoughtlessly. On the contrary, how Clementi'ish Beethoven sometimes gets, it would be more accurate to say. Who can fail to recognize in Clementi's same sonata the closing strains of the Scherzo which Beethoven composed as the second movement of his Opus 31, No. 3, twenty years later? Even the very key - A-flat - is the same.
Passing to the last movement of the same sonata, we at once hear, in minor, the outline of the famous melody first written by Beethoven in a contredanse in 1798, and later utilized as the prinicipal theme of the finale of his monumental "Eroica" Symphony. Indeed Clementi's Opus 14, No. 3 in it's entirety - Allegro, Largo and Presto - forms a tight, gripping little three-act drama, convincing both emotionally and logically.
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