Log in

John Hunter
John Hunter
Artist Services
Annelle K. Gregory
Annelle K. Gregory
Concert Violinist
Join PRO Now!

Sonatina: Piano Classics, Volume III

Sonatina:  Piano Classics, Volume III
Artist: James Spencer
Genre: Solo Instrumental
Purchase link(s): http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesspencer19

From the international success of PIANO CLASSICS FOR REFLECTION (2013) and VALSE ROMANTIQUE (2014), Concert pianist James Spencer brings you a sparkling collection of 18th century sonatinas for the pianoforte featuring works by: Muzio Clementi, Friedrich Kuhlau, Anton Diabelli, Ludwig van Beethoven and Jan Ladislav Dussek. 

Originally recorded on a rare Steinway in Newport Coast, California back in 1995 for Southern California compact disc release; the album has been digitally remastered by Adamos recordings for international release. 

Sonatinas have long been a favorite genre for studying pianists as this colorful vignettes offer a wealth of technical study in terms of scale passages, ornamentation, Alberti bass patterns and delicate clarity of execution. 

HISTORICAL NOTES: 

MUZIO CLEMENTI (January 24, 1752 – March 10, 1832) was an Italian composer, pianist, pedagogue, conductor, music publisher, editor, and piano manufacturer. Born in Rome, he spent most of his life in London, England.

Encouraged to study music by his father, he was sponsored as a young composer by Sir Peter Beckford who took him to England to advance his studies. Later, he toured Europe numerous times from his long-time base in London. It was on one of these occasions in 1781 that he engaged in a piano competition with the twenty-five year old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Influenced by Domenico Scarlatti's harpsichord school and Haydn's classical school and by the stile galante of Johann Christian Bach, Clementi developed a fluent and technical legato style, which he passed on to a generation of pianists, including John Field, Johann Baptist Cramer, Ignaz Moscheles, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Carl Czerny. He was a notable influence on Ludwig van Beethoven's early keyboard works.

Clementi also produced and promoted his own brand of pianos and was a notable music publisher. Because of this activity, many compositions by Clementi's contemporaries and earlier artists have stayed in the repertoire. Though the European reputation of Muzio Clementi was second only to Joseph Haydn in his day, his reputation languished for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. His opus 36 Sonatinas for the fortepiano are most beloved amongst piano students, concert artists and listeners. 

FRIEDRICH DANIEL RUDOLF KUHLAU ( September 11, 1786 – March 12, 1832) was a German-born Danish composer during the Classical and early Romantic periods. He was a central figure of the Danish Golden Age and is immortalized in Danish cultural history through his music for Elves' Hill, the first true work of Danish National Romanticism and a concealed tribute to the absolute monarchy. To this day it is his version of this melody which is the definitive arrangement.

During his lifetime, Kuhlau was known primarily as a concert pianist and composer of Danish opera, but was responsible for introducing many of Beethoven's works, which he greatly admired, to Copenhagen audiences. Considering that his house burned down destroying all of his unpublished manuscripts, he was a prolific composer leaving more than 200 published works in most genres. His sonatinas for the pianoforte are beloved amongst pianists and classical music patrons. 

ANTON DIABELLI (September 5, 1781 – April 7,1858) was an Austrian music publisher, editor and composer. Best known in his time as a publisher, he is most familiar today as the composer of the waltz on which Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his set of thirty-three Diabelli Variations. In this collection we are introduced to one of Diabelli's most celebrated sonatinas. 

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (December 16, 1770 – March 26, 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, his best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concerti, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa Solemnis and an opera, Fidelio.

Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age. He was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven, and by opera composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe in music composition. At the age of 21, he moved to Vienna and began studying with Joseph Haydn, quickly earning a reputation as a piano virtuoso. He lived in Vienna until his death. By the turn of the 19th century, his hearing had begun to deteriorate because of a condition which many present-day historians and scholars believe was otospongiosis disease of bone. Beethoven gave up public performance and conducting in 1811, but continued to compose; although he spent the last decade of his life almost totally deaf, many of his most admired works were composed in these last 15-16 years. His Sonatina in G Major for fortepiano is a favorite first primer to his piano repertoire. 

Today, Beethoven is generally regarded as one of the greatest and most influential of all composers.

JAN LADISLAV DUSSEK February 12, 1760 – March 20, 1812) was a Czech composer and pianist. He was an important representative of Czech music abroad in the second half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Some of his more forward-looking piano works have traits often associated with Romanticism.

Dussek was one of the first piano virtuosi to travel widely throughout Europe. He performed at courts and concert venues from London to Saint Petersburg to Milan, and was celebrated for his technical prowess. During a nearly ten-year stay in London, he was instrumental in extending the size of the pianoforte, and was the recipient of one of John Broadwood's first 6-foot forte pianos. Harold Schonberg wrote that he was the first pianist to sit at the piano with his profile to the audience, earning him the appellation "le beau visage." All subsequent pianists have sat on stage in this manner. He was one of the best-regarded pianists in Europe before Beethoven's rise to prominence.

His music is marked by lyricism interrupted by sudden dynamic contrasts. Not only did he write prolifically for the piano, he was an important composer for the harp. His music for that instrument contains a great variety of figuration within a largely diatonic harmony, avoids dangerous chromatic passages and is eminently playable. His concerto writing is exciting. His music is considered standard repertoire for all harpists, particularly his Six Sonatas/Sonatinas and especially the Sonata in C minor. Less well known to the general public than that of his more renowned Classical period contemporaries, his piano music is highly valued by many teachers and not infrequently programmed Franz Liszt has been called an indirect successor of Dussek in the composition and performance of virtuoso piano music. His music remained popular to some degree in 19th-century Great Britain and the USA, and some of it is still in print, with much more becoming available in period editions found online.

NOTES ON JAMES SPENCER:

JAMES SPENCER is not only a recording artist of classical piano repertoire but also jazz. His albums BLUE GARDENIA (2013), NIGHTFALL (2014), BLUE (2015) and EXOTICA (2015) have been her on internationally celebrated radio podcasts including: The Cocktail Nation (Sydney, Australia), The Breeze (Madison, Wisconsin), Penthouse Radio (New York City, New York) and The Drive In Lounge (Santa Monica, California). NIGHTFALL was honored as one of the top jazz lounge albums of 2014 by Cocktail Nation

JAMES SPENCER is a musicologist/author who penned: LES BAXTER, LADY LIBERTY: THE DEFINITIVE JULIE LONDON HANDBOOK (2013), AN HISTORICAL STUDY OF KURT WEILL'S DER SILBERSEE (2013) and THE VINTAGE VEGAN: THE ART OF VEGAN TEA HOSTING (2015). He is currently working on a bio of Exotica legend Martin Denny. 

James Spencer graduated with a Master and Bachelor of Music from California State University, Fullerton (1995, 1992) and holds a Performance Diploma in Harpsichord and Early Music from Royal Academy of Music at University of Victoria (1988). He is currently a US representative/professor for the London College of Music exams through University of West London. He is writing his fellowship dissertation on the life of exotica artist Martin Denny. 

For more information on studies in piano, digital keyboard, voice, acting, violin, viola, mandolin, music composition/theory, music therapy and kindermusik; artist development and agent services, his upcoming album and book releases our tour schedule please visit: jamesrspencer.com. Or you may call Spencer Music and Artist Development directly at: 562 394 2694.