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CD Review

Muzio Clementi

Complete Symphonies

  • Minuetto Pastorale
  • Overture in C Major
  • Overture in D Major
  • Sinfonia in D Major, Op. 44
  • Symphony #1 in C Major (1807)
  • Symphony #2 in D Major
  • Symphony #3 "The Great National" in G Major
  • Symphony #4 in D Major
  • Symphony, Op. 18/1 (1787)
  • Symphony in D Major, Op. 18/2 (1787)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Francesco d'Avalos
Academy Sound & Vision CDDCS247 2CDs 78:53+78:13 DDD
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AS&V have repromoted their original Clementi series as a two-disc set that is packed to the seams with quality orchestral music. The first disc contains four symphonies, two unnumbered and the first two from the official list. Both early symphonies date from 1787 and are typically Mozartian in their style with some lovely minuets and very vivacious finales. The First Symphony has a slow introduction that is transformed into a brilliant allegro lasting eight minutes whilst the slow movement is a genial andante. With the Second, Clementi constructs a skilful contrapuntal contrast in the First movement whilst the Presto finale gallops along at breakneck speed, very well played by Avalos and the Philharmonia. The final two symphonies are altogether more dramatic and avant-garde, rather looking forward to Beethoven. 'Great National' is the title of the Third Symphony, a half-hour long work that can be somewhat repetitive at times especially in the eleven minute long opening movement. The Fourth is more compact and neatly packaged but lacks the noble finesse of the Grand National.

D'Avalos is a genial interpreter in all six symphonies, coaxing excellent playing from the orchestra and adding a few interpretative touches to spice up proceedings. In that sense, he is preferable to Claudio Scimone's earlier excursions (with the same orchestra) for Erato that seemed slightly too boxed up. D'Avalos also adds a couple of cheerful overtures and a minuet to bring the total timing up to almost 80 minutes on each disc. This is surely excellent value for money.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech