Czerny The Piano Sonatas Volume 3

A torchbearer at Beethoven’s funeral, Beethoven’s pupil, friend and protégé Carl Czerny is almost forgotten today except as the author of educational piano pieces and the author of a long-influential piano method. But like his peers among Beethoven’s circle of friends, notably Ferdinand Ries and Ignaz Moscheles, Czerny was one of those who carried on the torch of the late-classical style into the early years of the age of Romanticism, and made a distinctive contribution through his own creative work. He was a gigantically prolific composer, and much of his huge output has remained unknown since his death. Yet there is plenty in it that is worth searching out, and as a virtuoso pianist his most substantial piano works, such as the sonatas, give him a definite claim to fame.

Despite teaching at times as many as ten hours a day, Czerny managed to compose an immense amount of music, eventually totalling over 1,000 works. It is said that he composed so prolifically that he worked on several compositions simultaneously. He would set up a series of desks in his workroom, each with a different work in progress on it. Czerny would start with one, fill two facing pages, go to the next desk, fill two pages of that work, and so on. By the time he returned to the first desk, the ink would have dried, he could turn the page, and go on.



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Jones is just the man for the Job; his appetite for consuming major tranches of the repertory is quite astonishing, as a brief survey of his discography confirms, and I have enjoyed his spotless playing - both in concertos and recitals - on many occasions over the years. It is to Nimbus’s credit that, in collaboration with Jones, some less well-trodden highways and byways continue to be explored, often taking in the entire output of the composer in question. Those who have encountered Jones’s other Nimbus recordings will be accustomed to the sense of live performance he manages to convey, both in the playing itself and by means of the vibrant acoustic. What emerges is vivid, wholesome music making that never places the playing higher up the food chain than the music itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed these performances for their impeccable rhythmic attach, utterly reliable crispness of touch and unerring sense of drive.

I found the overall recording to be a tremendous feet of pianism of which both pianist and production team should be proud. With it, Jones notches up yet another conspicuous victory, showing Czerny to be a vastly underrated, deeply motivated musician whose piano music needs to be given a very long second look.

Mark Tanner, International Record Review

Fresh from my enjoyment of volumes 1 (NI 5832) and 2 (NI 5863) in this series, I find that there’s no cessation in the latest release. As before, Martin Jones and the Nimbus team has elected to intersperse youthful and later works the better to construct artful programmes. And, as before, it takes two CDs per release at least to begin to do justice to Czerny’s prodigious output.
We start with the Tenth Sonata, completed in 1831. It opens boldly, dramatically, and virtuosically, qualities that are the sine qua non of Czerny performances too, as mediated by the ever brilliant Martin Jones. The slow movement, by contrast, is vested with great poetic distinction, a song adorned with bewitching ornaments and real depth. But Czerny doesn’t slumber too long in the world of poesy, as his Scherzo is almost militantly saucy, and the finale’s left hand figures generate an almost toccata-like ethos. The Rondino seems to hint at Haydn’s Emperor Quartet, whilst also advancing the claims of a limpid treble sonority and refined legerdemain. The Sonatine includes a deliciously lilting finale reflecting the generosity of his music making as much as elsewhere we are confronted with its exceptional digital demands. This first disc ends with the Gran Capriccio of c.1828, a much more turbulent affair, not least in bass staccati, relieved by the arrival, in the central slow movement, of a noble hymnal procession.
There are some Beethovenian elements in the opening of the Fourth Sonata, and the slow movement is rich in chromatic and lyric interest. The finale meanwhile is playful, and effortlessly projected by Jones, who seems quite as adept in this repertoire as he had in the previous two volumes. Nimbus’s sound has considerable warmth. The notes by Calum MacDonald are not only extensive but very engagingly written, and seal another outstanding release in this series.

Jonathan Woolf ,

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