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Cherubini: Six Sonatas For Fortepiano

Cherubini: Six Sonatas For Fortepiano

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In the second half of 18th century, keyboard music in Tuscany was flourishing. Many composers wrote music for both the fortepiano and the harpsichord: the former, which was invented just before the turn of the 18th century in Florence by harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731), rose to an incredible degree of popularity in the last decades of the century at the expense of the latter, which experienced the last moments of its glorious history. At any rate, it was by no means uncommon that composers published music intended to be played on either instrument, as almost all keyboard pieces written in Tuscany during the 1780s were explicitly addressed per il clavicembalo o fortepiano (for the harpsichord or piano).

The Florence-born composer Luigi Cherubini (1760–1842) published his Sei Sonate per il Cimbalo around 1780; they are currently believed to be the first published work by the composer, although he had written operas and religious music prior to the publication of this work. The style of these sonatas is not too far from the musical fashion of the time: they all consist of two movements, the first in sonata-form, the second a rondò where the second theme is typically characterized by highly virtuosic writing. All six sonatas follow this strict formal code, however, Cherubini manages to create a surprising variety in the themes and their development. Each sonata could, in fact, depict a different stock character from the commedia dell’Arte, with their strict formal codification employed in a theatrical way thanks to the perfect balance of ideas set out each time. Even the bass seems to be adjusted depending on the mood of the theme – Cherubini employs Murky bass, Alberti bass and even counterpoint. The harmonic closeness between the key signatures of each sonata gives further cohesion to the whole set.

After careful consideration, Simone El Oufir Pierini found the fortepiano to be the best instrument to play these works on, although in the printed edition it was explicitly said that they should be played on the harpsichord. The piano, a new instrument, was highly favoured by the new Tuscan court, and the potential of this new instrument was sought out with keen interest by composers. The employment of the fortepiano for these sonatas hopefully sheds new light on these pieces, written by one of the most influential composers of the time.

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Brilliant Classics
    • UPC/Barcode: 5028421962467
    • Item Number: BRI96246